Lifetime associations between cannabis, use, abuse, and dependence and panic attacks in a representative sample

Michael J. Zvolensky, Amit Bernstein, Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, Norman B. Schmidt, Julia D. Buckner, Marcel O. Bonn-Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The present investigation evaluated lifetime associations between cannabis use, abuse, and dependence and panic attacks after controlling for alcohol abuse, polysubstance use, and demographic variables. Methods: Data for this study were obtained as part of a large statewide survey, the Colorado Social Health Survey (CSHS). Participants were contacted using randomly sampled household addresses (72% response rate) and interviews took place in participants' homes. Participants consisted of a representative sample from the Colorado general adult population (n = 4745; 52% female). The Diagnostic Interview Schedule was administered to obtain diagnoses. Results: After controlling for polysubstance use, alcohol abuse, and demographic variables, lifetime history of cannabis dependence, but not use or abuse, was significantly related to an increased risk of panic attacks. Additionally, among participants reporting a lifetime history of both panic attacks and cannabis use, the age of onset of panic attacks (M = 19.0 years of age) was significantly earlier than for individuals with a lifetime panic attack history but no cannabis use (M = 27.6 years of age). Conclusions: Structured interview data suggest lifetime cannabis dependence is significantly associated with an increased risk of panic attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-486
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was supported by a National Institute on Drug Abuse research grants (1 R21 DA016227-01 and 1 R03 DA016566-01A2) awarded to Dr. Zvolensky, a National Research Service Award predoctoral fellowship (F31 MH073205-01) awarded to Amit Bernstein, and a National Institute of Mental Health research grant (R21 MH62056) awarded to Dr. Schmidt.


  • Anxiety
  • Cannabis
  • Dependence
  • Panic attacks
  • Polysubstance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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