Medical Cannabis, Anxiety And Depression

A retrospective study investigating how medical cannabis impacts anxiety and depression outcomes has reported positive results.

The study involving 7,362 Canadian patients with an average age of 49.8 years was carried out by VIVO Cannabis Inc subsidiary, Harvest Medicine Inc.

Led by HMED’s team of prescribing clinicians and physician support staff, analyses were carried out for different timepoints: 3-6 months, 12-18 months, and 24 months or greater. Patients were able to choose their medical cannabis products, including the form of administration and level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

The report from the study indicates statistically significant improvements between baseline and follow-up scores for both the GAD-7 and PHQ-9. GAD-7 is a diagnostic self-report scale indicating a patient’s level of anxiety. Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ) is a self-administered diagnostic instrument used to gauge level of depression.

Larger improvements were seen for patients who were actively seeking medical cannabis to treat anxiety or depression; so there could be some confirmation bias influence.

The report notes the largest proportion of patients who improved by the 5-point MCID (Minimal clinically important difference) for the PHQ-9 was at 24+ months, similar to the GAD-7.  But between a fifth to a quarter of patients reported worsening PHQ-9 scores at follow-up.

The researchers state their study provides some evidence to support the effectiveness of medical cannabis as a treatment for anxiety and depression. They acknowledge available data can be conflicting, with some supporting the use of medical cannabis, and other data suggesting it may deteriorate or worsen an individual’s level of anxiety or depression,

President of Harvest Medicine Carole Chan said the team is sharing the clinical insights to contribute to medical cannabis literature and help address stigma among health care professionals.

“We are committed to further research and advancing patient outcomes with an evidence-informed approach to patient care,” said Ms. Chan.

The study has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Psychiatry Research, and can be accessed here.

Approximately 10% of Canadians are estimated to suffer from anxiety and 11.3% from depression. A significant proportion are already using medical cannabis as a substitute for anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications.

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