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Cannabis use and depression: a longitudinal study of a national cohort of Swedish conscripts

Author(s): Manrique-Garcia E, Zammit S, Dalman C, Hemmingsson T, Allebeck P

Abstract

Background

While there is increasing evidence on the association between cannabis use and psychotic outcomes, it is still unclear whether this also applies to depression. We aim to assess whether risk of depression and other affective outcomes is increased among cannabis users.

Methods

A cohort study of 45 087 Swedish men with data on cannabis use at ages 18–20. Diagnoses of unipolar disorder, bipolar disorder, affective psychosis and schizoaffective disorder were identified from inpatient care records over a 35-year follow-up period. Cox proportional hazard modeling was used to assess the hazard ratio (HR) of developing these disorders in relation to cannabis exposure.

Results

Only subjects with the highest level of cannabis use had an increased crude hazard ratio for depression (HR 1.5, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.0-2.2), but the association disappeared after adjustment for confounders. There was a strong graded association between cannabis use and schizoaffective disorder, even after control for confounders, although the numbers were small (HR 7.4, 95% CI, 1.0-54.3).

Conclusion

We did not find evidence for an increased risk of depression among those who used cannabis. Our finding of an increased risk of schizoaffective disorder is consistent with previous findings on the relation between cannabis use and psychosis.

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