In a new study encompassing over 12 million residents of Ontario, researchers have uncovered a connection between emergency room visits for cannabis use and the subsequent development of anxiety disorders. A significant 27% of these individuals were diagnosed with a new anxiety disorder within a span of three years following their ER visit.
Conducted by a team of experts at the Bruyère Research Institute, in collaboration with other Canadian institutions, this extensive research stands as the most comprehensive examination into the relationship between cannabis use and anxiety to date.
The findings are eye-opening: those going to the emergency room for cannabis-related issues are nearly four times as likely to develop new anxiety disorders compared to the general population. This risk calculation takes into account a variety of social factors and pre-existing mental health conditions, suggesting a direct link.
More so, the severity of the potential outcomes for those who frequented the ER due to cannabis cannot be overstated. These individuals were found to have a staggering 9.4-fold increase in hospitalization or subsequent ED visits for severe or escalating anxiety disorders.
This research is particularly significant as it contributes to the ongoing debate on whether cannabis acts as a causative factor for anxiety or is merely used as a form of self-medication by those already suffering from anxiety symptoms. The evidence presented leans towards the former; cannabis may not alleviate but actually worsen anxiety symptoms.
Contrary to the benign and sometimes therapeutic image of cannabis, the authors of the study strongly caution against its use for treating anxiety. The lack of evidence supporting its benefits and the clear potential for harm outlined by this research make a compelling case for re-evaluating the role of cannabis in mental health treatment.