The association between cannabis use and anxiety disorders: Results from a population-based representative sample

Daniel Feingold, Mark Weiser, Jürgen Rehm, Shaul Lev-Ran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations

Abstract

The cross-sectional association between cannabis use and anxiety disorders is well documented, yet less is known about the longitudinal association between the two. This study explored the association between cannabis use, cannabis use disorders (CUDs) and anxiety disorders in a 3-year prospective study. Data was drawn from waves 1 and 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder and specific phobias, were controlled for at baseline. Initiation of cannabis use was defined as any cannabis use by former lifetime abstainers in the time period between baseline and follow-up, CUDs were defined as a diagnosis of cannabis abuse or dependence. Results indicate that cannabis use was not associated with increased incidence of any anxiety disorder (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR)=1.12(0.63-0.98)). Though heavy cannabis use was associated with increased incidence of social anxiety in most models, this was not fully retained in the final adjusted model (AOR=1.98(0.99-1.98)). Investigation of the association between baseline CUDs and anxiety disorders at follow-up revealed similar results. Any baseline anxiety disorder was not associated with future initiation of cannabis use (AOR=1.03(0.62-1.69)) or onset of a CUD (AOR=0.68(0.41-1.14)), yet individuals with baseline panic disorder were more prone to initiate cannabis use at follow-up (AOR=2.2(1.15-4.18)), possibly as a means of self-medication. Our findings suggest that cannabis use and CUDs are not associated with increased incidence of most anxiety disorders and inversely, most anxiety disorders are not associated with increased incidence of cannabis use or CUDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-505
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Cannabis use
  • Cannabis use disorders
  • NESARC
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety

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