Teen Marijuana Users May be in for a Lifetime of Pathological Anxiety

Experimental evidence shows sobering brain changes


By Joan R. Landes MA, CMHC

A recent study that shows sobering changes in the brains of adolescent mice exposed to marijuana (specifically, THC), leaves no doubt that cannabis use is riskier that most teens know.

Researchers in Spain exposed mice to three experimental conditions: THC, Stress, and a combination of THC and Stress. Shockingly, adolescent mice that experienced the latter, showed changes in neuronal pathways in their brains that show “deregulation in the long term of the circuit that regulates fear.”

In other words, normal brains are able to become less fearful of repeated stimuli over time. But these THC/stress impaired brains, are not able to mitigate anxiety over the long-term. These changes predispose the organism to suffer “anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, phobias or panic attacks” throughout adulthood. Ironically, the very reason that many teens use cannabis is that they are stressed.

Now we know that this could be the very mechanism that sets them up for a lifetime of anxiety.


Universitat Pompeu Fabra – Barcelona. “Exposure to cannabis and stress in adolescence can lead to anxiety disorders in adulthood.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190108125419.htm>.

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