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.
What is Marijuana?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the system of our body doesn’t know whether a drug that it is going to consume, is legal or illegal, controversial or uncontroversial! The only thing our body responds to is the effect that a drug has on it.
Talking about its effects, let’s find out the composition of this drug first. Cannabis compounds are derived from the dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant. The main active compounds present in its constitution are tetrahydrocannabinol or commonly known as THC and cannabidiol or commonly known as CBD. It is known that one of these cannabinoids possess psychoactive properties that can be mind-altering which get attached to various receptors in the brain of the user. The effect of Marijuana upon the mind of the user differs from the absorption level of the user as well as the kind of composition a user is consuming. While CBD itself does not act on the brain receptors, it is also known to have a calming and therapeutic effect on users.
The medicinal properties of Marijuana have impacted a lot of research studies, where it has proved to be beneficial in healing many difficult conditions people deal with every day. Due to this reason, more and more initiatives are taken to legalize it around the world.
Before we dive deeper into knowing how Marijuana it heals up the anxiety or makes the brain depends on it, let’s take a brief tour of anxiety, its meaning, and how it withholds the normal functioning of a human mind.
What is Anxiety?
As they say, anxiety can’t define who you are as a person. It’s always you who has the power to define it. Often, we forget this and get carried away with the web of fear our mind has created! Anxiety is the fear of that unknown which overpowers our logical thinking and tries to control us our reaction.
Anxiety is a state of mind where one over anticipates situations and triggers one’s innate fight or flight mechanics. Uncontrollable panic attacks, dizziness, loss of appetite, nervous breakdown, palpitations, sweating, shivering are some of the major signs that our mind and body show under the captivity of Anxiety.
Clinically, anxiety can be further classified into various categories such as:
- Post-Traumatic disorder
- The obsessive-compulsive disorder is commonly known as OCD
- Panic Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Symptoms of a person having an anxiety disorder
- The feeling of excessive irritation
- Excessive fear
- Difficulty managing daily chores and tasks
Cognitive and physical symptoms:
- The feeling of losing control over thought processing
- Anxiousness about situations and predicting a negative situation beforehand
- Superficial beliefs
- Guilt-ridden feelings hovering over all the time
- Escapism from particular situations
- The gripping feeling of being slow or a loser
- Avoidance of certain situations that involves concentration. This may include a person avoiding driving, staying alone
- Avoiding public appearances
- The feeling of constantly being judged upon the actions of an individual
- Self-destructing thoughts occur when anxiety levels stretch way beyond an individual’s control. Having a suicidal tendency after feeling low is a common sign that anxiety levels need a practitioner’s treatment.
Causes of Anxiety
We all know the existence of the problem, but what we ignore, is how the problem cropped up? What might have triggered it? How did it go that worse? What might be the possible reasons?
The cure for the problem starts the very day, the reason for the problem is diagnosed. And going by this, we must know what the reason is to arrive at a solution. The causes of anxiety cannot just be limited to writing them down, but a few points have been broadened below:
- A stressful or traumatic life incident can be responsible to make a person suffer from an anxiety disorder.
- The family history of a person can also be a cause for someone under anxiety.
- Many times, childhood developmental issues can cause a teenager or when he turns as an adult to be under anxiety.
- Continuous peer pressure also throws a person into a deep well of anxiety.
- Over or prolonged usage of alcohol can lead to anxiety
- A high degree of medication with continuous usage can aggravate the issues of anxiety.
- Usage of illegal substances or drug dependency can cause anxiety
- Long term psychiatric problems that are well ignored due to busy schedules can also aggravate the causes of anxiety.
- Saddening life events that leave an impression for a long time, can cause anxiety.
- Misinterpretation or not clearing up the vent of emotional baggage can lead to anxiety issues in the future.
Medical Cannabis and Anxiety
The reaction of the human mind after consuming Marijuana depends on the mental state as well as the dosage of the drug. Marijuana possesses the power of altering your feelings, emotions, perceptions and can even control the mood.
The administering of cannabis or marijuana for anxiety can potentially have alternating effects; if a person is in deep depression or anxiety, the dose of Marijuana administered medically would prove beneficial. But in cases where this drug is taken non-medically or it is abused, it may have unwanted effects.
Cannabis Treatment for Anxiety
Even after successfully achieving the status of legal consumption in many parts of the world, yet scientists are not fully convinced about administering Marijuana for complete anxiety relief. Marijuana does create a calming and relaxing effect that temporarily dismisses all the anxiety signs and symptoms even overcoming suicidal tendencies in worst cases of anxieties.
Not only the mental condition of the patient but one of the most important considerations before administering Marijuana is the environment under which it is consumed. If the environment is not favourable, the dosage can turn fatal by elevating or heightening the existing level of anxiety. The unpleasant situation of consumption is referred to as a condition where the drug usage has to be concealed due to societal pressure or overusing the drug by self-medicating the dosage of it.
Does marijuana help with anxiety?
On behalf of the above-mentioned references for Marijuana usage to treat different levels of anxiety, it can be said that no doubt the drug has beneficial properties of healing this fragile state of mind but it does tame your mind!
Long term usage of the drug makes it more harmful to its innumerable uses. It turns Marijuana from being a medicinal drug to an addictive drug. Below mentioned are some inferences that are key factors in terms of the drug as a medicine or as a habit-forming substance.
- Marijuana, if and when administered as a medicinal drug for therapeutic purposes, can provide short – term relief from symptoms of anxiety. but an overdose of the same drug can trigger short – term anxiety as well as create a situation of panic for the drug user. A balanced dosage is what should be given to a patient.
- Marijuana causes more harm if and when it is consumed under more stressful conditions than the person who is consuming is in. If you are uncomfortable taking it, Marijuana can trigger anxiety feeling when taken under pressure prone atmosphere.
- In many cases of anxiety and its treatment with marijuana consumption, it has been noticed that the sense of leaving this drug after the completion of its prescribed course, brings in more pronounced symptoms of anxiety. due to its habit-forming properties, Marijuana makes the user dependent on it. Whenever the user consumes Marijuana, stress is relieved. But when the dosage comes to an end, the feeling of leaving it, the dependency on the drug makes the patient more anxious than ever before.
- Rebounds or more anxious situations occur in consumers’ life when they have to leave this drug suddenly. The human mind which has by now adapted the calmness factor provided by the drug suddenly gets scared of Marijuana’s absence. And thus, anxiety comes back making the life of the user darker than ever.
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 a free appointment, click here.