The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a serious toll on mental health, compounding mental issues such as anxiety. Intending to manage anxiety, the number of people turning to cannabis – otherwise referred to as marijuana – is rising fast. According to new research from the Journal of Addictive Diseases, medical cannabis users have upped their use by an average of 91 percent. The increase is evident since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now that marijuana is being legalized in more states, accessing it has become easier than before. More people use it for both recreational and medicinal purposes. However, people with an anxiety disorder should continue to use typical treatment methods. These methods include cognitive-behavioral therapy or talk therapy. On the other hand, for patients with chronic anxiety disorder, medication is sometimes recommended.
Other solutions like the use of medical marijuana to manage anxiety are also becoming popular. However, the use of cannabis to relax and reduce anxiety has raised eyebrows from some researchers and doctors. The reason for this is that scientific research in this area is still sparse. According to research, more than 80 percent of marijuana users believed it offered them relief from depression, stress, and anxiety. However, some people stated that its use made their anxiety worse.
So, is cannabis good or bad for anxiety?
What Research Says About Cannabis
Researchers are hard at work to answer questions about medical marijuana and anxiety with the growing legalization of the drug throughout the United States. Preliminary research suggests that the use of medical marijuana may have some positive benefits. Patients looking for alternative methods to reduce stress and anxiety are recommended to use CBD. However, they have to be under the care of a mental health professional and a qualified medical marijuana doctor.
There is voluminous scientific research that verifies the efficacy of cannabis when applied to some medical conditions. While cannabis is often portrayed as a user-friendly substance, many are still not sure whether to consider using it for anxiety symptoms. To make an informed choice on whether you should start using cannabis, you need to understand the science behind cannabis and its use.
What Is Cannabis?
Marijuana refers to the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. This plant contains compounds such as THC and CBD, known as cannabinoids. The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) compound is psychoactive and known to cause the feeling of being “high.” On the other hand, CBD (cannabidiol) is non-psychoactive and can have therapeutic uses.
These two compounds are put together to create different strains, with the common ones being indica and sativa. Different strains have different effects depending on the dosage and how they are ingested. Most marijuana users have reported that using medical cannabis that contains both CBD and THC offers better results in reducing stress. These results may vary from person to person.
Is Cannabis Good for Anxiety?
Some people use marijuana to help them relax before facing a tough situation. Professional medical marijuana doctors often recommend the use of cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has also been reported to ease pain in patients with chronic diseases. Research supports the use of CBD as a helpful treatment for anxiety. Numerous studies have shown that patients have successfully used cannabis to calm down patients with schizophrenia and clinical depression. Other reported benefits of using medical marijuana include:
- Increased sense of calm
- May help one to sleep
- May help with pain management
- May help with feelings of depression and psychosis
The use of marijuana cannot fully cure anxiety. Patients who have used it have reported a reduction in their overall distress. However, long-term use of marijuana may cause a patient to develop tolerance. The danger here lies in making one feel the need to use more to get the same results as before.
Can Cannabis Trigger Anxiety?
CBD is a non-psychoactive agent, which can be used for therapeutic treatments. However, there have been cases where cannabis has triggered anxiety. Research shows that cannabis containing high concentrations of THC can trigger anxiety in some users. Patients with diagnosed mental illness should use marijuana with caution. Consult your medical marijuana doctor to get the right information about marijuana and your condition.
Ways You Can Consume Cannabis to Treat Anxiety
There are several ways you can consume cannabis with the goal of treating anxiety. These include:
- Consuming supplements or capsules
- Using a topical preparation to rub on the skin
- Eating it raw
- Consuming it as an edible in the form of a brownie, cake, or cookies
- Adding it your preferred beverage, like tea
- Smoking or vaping
To avoid the overconsumption of medical marijuana, be careful not to self-medicate. Instead, you need to work closely with a licensed medical marijuana doctor. The physician will prescribe the right dosage you need for your condition. You must follow the prescription to experience the intended outcome.
Possible Side Effects
While medical marijuana can help alleviate anxiety symptoms, there are some possible risks to the user’s physical health. For example, users should not operate heavy machinery or drive a car since marijuana use can affect motor control and coordination. Also, there have been cases where users have suffered from short-term memory loss. For the elderly, smoking marijuana may cause the risk of heart issues. Overconsumption of marijuana may also cause the user to become dependent on the substance and may even lead to addiction.
Research on marijuana for anxiety is limited, and experts are still conducting more studies to learn more about the association between marijuana and anxiety. Some studies have shown that the use of medical marijuana can help calm a patient with an anxiety disorder.
While medical marijuana has benefits when used appropriately, it can also bring about other health risks and side effects when abused. If you, or someone you know, are suffering from an anxiety disorder, you should consult a professional medical marijuana doctor before using medical cannabis for anxiety.