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Canadian patients using cannabis to treat anxiety and depression experienced improved outcomes: study

Apr 26, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

Researchers find “statistically significant improvements” between baseline and follow-up scores after initiating medical cannabis treatment

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Researchers from Harvest Medicine in Calgary suggest their recent findings support the view that using medical cannabis can help with treating anxiety and depression.

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Investigators wanted to shed light on what impact medical cannabis has on outcomes for patients experiencing anxiety or depression.

Based on information from 7,362 patients who received their medical cannabis documentation and allotment from the Calgary clinic, researchers noted improved outcomes after initiating medical cannabis treatment and at the one-year follow-up.

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The study, results of which were published online this week in Psychiatry Research, shows that patients seeking medical cannabis for either anxiety or depression saw improved outcomes over time.

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Aged 18 or older, study participants completed validated questionnaires for anxiety (the GAD-7 test used checks seven feelings, including trouble relaxing and worrying too much about different things) and depression (PHQ-9 is a patient health questionnaire that asks about symptoms such as feeling tired or having little energy, trouble concentrating and little interest or pleasure in doing things) at their initial evaluation and at least one follow-up visit.

“There were statistically significant improvements between baseline and follow-up scores for both the GAD-7 and PHQ-9, with larger improvements seen for patients who were actively seeking medical cannabis to treat anxiety or depression,” the study authors write.

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More specifically, they point out that from 12 months on, those reporting anxiety had an average GAD-7 score decrease greater than the minimum clinically important difference of four.

A similar improvement was seen in patients reporting depression from 18 months onward, who had an average PHQ-9 score decrease more than the minimum clinically important difference of five.

The GAD-7 scale notes that a score of four or less indicates “minimal anxiety” while a PHQ-9 score of five suggests that “patient not likely depressed, re-screen if affect changes.”

A joint U.S./Canadian study published in September of 2021 found that “medicinal cannabis use may reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in clinically anxious and depressed populations.”

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Authors noted, however, that “future placebo-controlled studies are necessary to replicate these findings and to determine the route of administration, dose and product formulation characteristics to optimize clinical outcomes.”

Research released in 2020, however, suggested a lot more information was needed about medical marijuana and using it for psychiatric diseases. “There is currently encouraging, albeit embryonic, evidence for medicinal cannabis in the treatment of a range of psychiatric disorders,” the study concluded.

Another U.S. study published in 2022 argued “getting a medical marijuana card led to a higher incidence and severity of CUD (cannabis use disorder) and prompted “no significant improvement in pain, anxiety or depressive symptoms,” although insomnia symptoms did get somewhat better.

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