Exploring the Relationship between Cannabis and Panic
thesisposted on 21.03.2012, 16:39 by David John Deen Ward
1.1 Background: Despite Cannabis being the most widely used recreational drug in the western world (Earlywine, 2002) little is known about its potential association with anxiety and panic pathology. 1.2 Literature Review: A systematic literature review was conducted with twenty-nine studies critically reviewed. Papers suggested contradictory and equivocal results across all research designs and anxiety disorders. Whilst a significant number of studies have observed an association between cannabis and anxiety/anxiety disorders, the nature and direction of that association is still a point of contention. 1.3 Research Report: No known British empirical research has focused on exploring relationships between cannabis and panic attacks. Also no known research has investigated the differential effects of consuming different types of cannabis on panic pathology. Inspired somewhat on established research (e.g. Zolvensky et al., 2006a) a cross-sectional study was undertaken to explore the potential relationship between cannabis and anxiety. A self-selecting opportunity sample of 306 students drawn from both of Leicester’s universities completed a battery of questionnaires concerning cannabis use, tobacco use, panic attack history, alcohol use, poly-substance use and various psychometrics. Significant levels of both cannabis use and panic attack history were reported among the sample. Survival analysis revealed cannabis users were of significant increased risk (OR 2.01) of experiencing a panic attack compared to non-users. Mann-Whitney analysis found cannabis users who use mainly high potency ‘sensimillia’ experienced significantly more lifetime panic attacks than those who used other types. Limitations are explored. 1.4 Implications: The research report concludes that cannabis use is a risk factor in experiencing panic attacks and experiencing more lifetime attacks. High potency cannabis further increases this risk. Education for substance misuse and mental health professionals is recommended along with cannabis use forming part of assessment for panic attacks/disorder. 1.5 Critical Appraisal: Reflective appraisal of the research process is presented alongside key learning points.