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Medical marijuana has proven to be effective at relieving the symptoms of many anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety, and depression.
While medical cannabis is not a cure-all for anxiety disorders, it has shown to provide relief from stress, anxiety, and depression. In some cases, however, medical marijuana can make the symptoms of anxiety worse.
Understanding the mental health effects from medical marijuana can help medical cannabis users effectively treat anxiety symptoms without experiencing the adverse effects, dependence, or addiction risk, which can make anxiety worse.
What Is Medical Cannabis?
Medical cannabis is a dioecious plant that produces a pollinating male or flowering female plant. The flower buds from a female flowering plant contain cannabinoids, terpenes, and other essential oils in its trichome glands.
Each cannabis strain has a unique chemical profile with varying concentrations of THC, CBD, and other minor cannabinoids, as well as terpenes. A cannabis experience will vary depending on the strain, amount consumed, tolerance, metabolism, and other factors.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is a normal part of life. Feelings of anxiety are stress reactions alerting the brain of risks and danger. Anxiety disorders, however, refer to a set of mental health disorders that produce excessive worry and fear.
Anxiety disorders can be severe enough to significantly affect a person's life, work, social life,. Below, we describe the primary anxiety disorder types.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder, GAD, is characterized by excessive worry about a wide range of factors, including work and social life. GAD patients have a hard time controlling their anxiety, even when there is little reason to feel anxious.
Panic disorders involve regular and sudden panic attacks. A panic attack can include symptoms like chest pain, increased heart rate, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health condition that causes patients to think obsessive thoughts and act on them. OCD patients may perform repetitive behaviors like cleaning, washing hands, counting objects, and much more debilitating actions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that stems from a physically and/or mentally traumatic event. PTSD can affect a person’s ability to accomplish everyday activities and maintain relationships.
Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder involves an extreme fear of social encounters. Patients may avoid social situations so they won’t feel embarrassed, rejected, or judged.
Treatments and Therapies for Anxiety
The treatment for anxiety disorders and depression vary based on the individual and the symptoms experienced. Usually, these mental health conditions are treated with psychotherapy, medication, support groups, and stress management techniques.
Medical marijuana has shown to be a potential treatment for anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.
How Medical Cannabis Can Help Anxiety
As an alternative or supplement to conventional medications and therapies, medical marijuana has significantly fewer and less harsh side effects and can be an effective treatment for anxiety, especially products that are high in CBD.
Cannabis’ main compounds, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) can be used for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Delta-8 THC, an isomer of THC, has also shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety in preliminary studies.
Cannabis research on the use of marijuana for anxiety indicates that low doses of CBD and/or THC can reduce anxiety. A 2017 study found that a 7.5 milligram dose of THC reduced anxiety but a 12.5 milligram dose increased anxiety.
If you are considering managing anxiety by eating, smoking, or vaping marijuana, consider using a small dose (5-7 milligrams) of each cannabinoid. A 10 milligram dose with a 1:1 CBD:THC ratio of 5 milligrams of CBD and 5 milligrams of THC may provide relief from anxiety while minimizing the adverse effects of THC.
High Doses of THC Can Trigger Anxiety
Many users have experienced tremendous health benefits from their medical marijuana use, but some do not experience these benefits, or worse, can experience increased anxiety symptoms. In high doses, THC can trigger anxiety and paranoia, especially in patients prone to these feelings.
Side Effects from Medical Cannabis
Prescription medications used to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression can cause significant side effects. While medical marijuana is effective at treating anxiety, patients may experience minimal and mild side effects from cannabis consumption, including:
- Increased heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
- Increased or decreased appetite (depending on the cannabis product)
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Cough or bronchitis
- Allergic reactions
While medical marijuana can provide anxiety and depression relief, it is not without risks with certain delivery methods. Smoking and vaping cannabis can provide fast-acting effects to alleviate anxiety, but can also cause irritation to the lungs and worsen respiratory issues.
Cannabis tinctures and edibles are cannabis products that can reduce anxiety levels without the smoking risks of inhalation. The effects from ingesting edibles take about an hour to kick in and can last for four to six hours. Sublingual delivery methods (under the tongue) with tinctures provide faster absorption.
Cannabis Dependence and Addiction
Cannabis can relieve the symptoms of anxiety and reduce the need for anti-anxiety medications that can have harsh side effects.
Excessive cannabis use can be a way for patients to feel completely numb to their emotions or stress. In the worst cases, patients can develop cannabis use disorder, where they feel mentally dependent on the drug and can experience withdrawal symptoms.
Legality of Cannabis
Cannabis is a Schedule I substance, making it federally illegal. Many states have passed medical and/or recreational use of cannabis. Cannabis laws vary by state and regulate possession, purchases, and cultivation.
In some states, anxiety disorders like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health disorders are listed as qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use. Patients require a medical marijuana card to legally obtain medical marijuana.
CBD sales are legal in most states due to the 2018 Farm Bill. However, some CBD-derived products like delta-8 THC are restricted or banned in some states due to their intoxicating effects and risk of contaminant consumption.
Best Strains of Medical Marijuana for Anxiety
The best strain of medical marijuana for anxiety depends on various factors, including the strain genetics, your anxiety symptoms, the quantity consumed, the THC concentration, terpenes, and so much more. Here are some of the best medical marijuana strains for anxiety.
- Critical Mass Weed Strain Review & Information”>Critical Mass
- Jack Herer Weed Strain Review & Information”>Jack Herer
- White Widow
- Northern Lights Weed Strain Review & Information”>Northern Lights
- Granddaddy Purple Weed Strain Review & Information”>Granddaddy Purple
- Purple Urkle
- Strawberry Cough
- Valentine X
Sativa strains tend to cause energizing and euphoric psychoactive effects compared to the relaxing and slightly sedating effects of indica strains. However, the effects of cannabis sativa or indica strains vary by person. Try different sativa and indica strains to find the right one for you.
Learn How to Use Cannabis as Medicine with CTU
If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety and depression, you can consider medical marijuana to relieve anxiety symptoms in a natural way. Cannabis Training University can help you uncover the anxiolytic effects of medical marijuana, understand the endocannabinoid system, and learn about more health benefits of the medical use of cannabis.