Anxiety disorders, which are characterized by excessive feelings of apprehension, worry and even fear, are among the most common mental health disorders in both Canada and the rest of the world. One of the most recent Canadian Community Health Surveys from Statistics Canada shows that more than 12% of Canadians have reported that they have been diagnosed with either an anxiety or mood disorder – the equivalent of 3.7 million people. It can be assumed that this number is likely even higher given the number of people who do not seek treatment,
About Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are often chronic in nature, lasting at least six months, and tend to get worse without treatment. Contrary to popular belief, anxiety disorders often do not get better with time. Symptoms can certainly come and go, but treatment is still usually necessary when it comes to anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders can cause serious impairments in one’s life, with social and occupational impairments being among the most common. There are also many different types of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When it comes to treatment, pharmaceutical medication and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy are often the first lines of defense. The problem with some medications, in particular, is that patients can build up tolerance to it, causing them to take higher and higher dosages. It can then cause very painful withdrawal symptoms. But there’s new hope! Studies are now showing that medical marijuana can also be an effective form of treatment for some types of anxiety disorders as well, often without the negative side effects often associated with pharmaceuticals
Clinical Research On Medical Marijuana and Anxiety
Medical marijuana is quickly gaining ground when it comes to treatment for anxiety, especially for those with post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, research is continuing to show the positive effects of medical marijuana on anxiety, just take a look at a few examples below.
A 2014 study found that marijuana can increase the presence of endocannabinoids, which are naturally-occurring chemicals in the brain. The problem is that stress reduces these chemicals; some researchers believe that less endocannabinoids could be a cause of anxiety disorders.
A recent landmark study coming out of Canada has found that 40% of patients who were prescribed medical cannabis to treat both anxiety and pain stopped using benzodiazepines, their prescription medication, within 90 days. 45% stopped using their medication after a year.
Clinical research has also shown that vaporizing medical cannabis or using edible oils can reduce PTSD symptoms in some patients. This study, which was published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, found that symptoms were reduced by as much as 75%. However, there have also been studies showing the positive effects of CBD, a major component of marijuana, on generalized social anxiety disorder. The study found that CBD significantly reduced social anxiety disorder due to its effects on the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain.
Furthermore, Apollo is currently studying the effects of medical cannabis on patients with PTSD with encouraging preliminary results. Stay tuned! ( or something like this )
As you can see, it is clear that there is certainly a positive link between medical marijuana use and at least some forms of anxiety, particularly PTSD. But, then again, studies have also shown benefits of medical marijuana on other forms of anxiety such as social anxiety disorder. Medical marijuana also has the potential to decrease the need for certain prescription medications like benzodiazepines.
How Medical Marijuana Can Treat Anxiety
With all of this said, what is it that makes medical marijuana a potentially effective treatment for those with anxiety? It is specifically the presence of the chemical compound Cannabidiol that is responsible for its anxiety-reducing effects. CBD is one of 85 naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis. It is not psychoactive, which means that it doesn’t produce feelings of paranoia, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, another component of cannabis. CBD also does not make users feel “high.” It also reduces the negative effects of CBD. THC, however, as you can see, can have the opposite intended effect on anxiety when consumed in high doses. That said, THC has been shown to offer other medical benefits, including reducing stress when consumed in low dosages.
Above all, it’s important to find medical marijuana that has the right balance between these two compounds and one that works for YOU, the patient. Different strains have different levels of chemicals, which is why sometimes you will hear that medical marijuana can make anxiety symptoms worse. Often, however, this is because the user is not using the correct marijuana strain or is taking too much. If you are interested in using medical marijuana to treat anxiety, consider Apollo Cannabis Clinic. Apollo Cannabis Clinic is Toronto’s premier medical marijuana clinic that has been successfully treating thousands of patients with anxiety, chronic pain, PTSD and many other conditions. To schedule an appointment, click here. For more information of how medical marijuana can treat anxiety, contact us here.