By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist
During times of stress people may become vulnerable to using cannabis as a way to cope.
Previous posts have discussed the negative impact of cannabis on memory, cognitive performance, and PTSD.
Cannabis withdrawal can cause and worsen a variety of mental health symptoms.
It is important become aware of this connection for mental health.
What are some symptoms of cannabis withdrawal syndrome (CWS)?
CWS involves 3 or more of the following symptoms within 7 days of reduced cannabis use (1):
- Changes in sleep
- Irritability, anger, or aggression
- Appetite or weight disturbance
- Somatic symptoms, such as headaches, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
How common is cannabis withdrawal syndrome?
A meta-analysis(2) of 47 studies including 23,518 participants, found that the prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome was found to be 47% (2).
What are some factors that were associated with higher cannabis withdrawal syndrome (2)?
Researchers (2) found that Daily cannabis use, concurrent tobacco use, and use of other substances was associated with higher CWS (2).
- It bears repeating that daily users were more likely to have cannabis withdrawal syndrome.
- Some people may report cannabis use helping with anxiety, depression, or insomnia when it may just be masking the withdrawal symptoms caused by previous cannabis use.
- Research shows an association between cannabis use and several medical, cognitive, functional, and psychosocial problems(3).
- Short-term risks of cannabis use include impaired short-term memory motor dis-coordination, altered judgment, paranoia, and psychosis (4).
- Some long-term effects of cannabis use include addiction, altered brain development, poor educational outcomes, cognitive impairment, diminished quality of life, increased risk psychotic disorders, injuries, motor vehicle collisions, and suicide (4,5).
- Further research is needed on cannabis and mental health.
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Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. American Psychiatric Association Publishing; 2013.
- Bahji A, Stephenson C, Tyo R, Hawken ER, Seitz DP. Prevalence of Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Among People With Regular or Dependent Use of Cannabinoids: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(4):e202370. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.2370.
- Crean RD , Tapert SF , Minassian A , Macdonald K , Crane NA , Mason BJ . Effects of chronic, heavy cannabis use on executive functions. J Addict Med. 2011;5(1):9-15. doi:1097/ADM.0b013e31820cdd57
- Volkow ND , Baler RD , Compton WM , Weiss SRB . Adverse health effects of marijuana use. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(23):2219-2227. doi:1056/NEJMra1402309
- Carvalho AF , Stubbs B , Vancampfort D , et al. Cannabis use and suicide attempts among 86,254 adolescents aged 12-15 years from 21 low- and middle-income countries. Eur Psychiatry. 2019;56:8-13. doi:1016/j.eurpsy.2018.10.006