Asking the right questions! There is no shortage of rumors about whether marijuana can help reduce anxiety, with a large number of advocates claiming that it helps people overcome stress.
Equally, studies have been conducted that showed smoked marijuana continued to increase anxiety and reduce the sense of feeling simulated. In fact, the most commonly reported side effects of smoking marijuana are intense anxiety and panic attacks, with up to 30% of users experiencing these.
As you can see, the situation is far from clear.
Let’s dig deeper.
Classic side effects.
The discussion on marijuana, from either side of the fence, revolves around its side effects. Anxiety and paranoia are the two major side effects of the herb. But if cannabis can make some people so uncomfortable, why does it help with anxiety for others. Turns out that this psychoactive flower can both trigger and calm anxiety — and what it does depends on the strain, dose, your individual body chemistry, and in some cases, even the environment you are in.
The relationship between marijuana and anxiety is a complicated one, just as one would expect.
And that is because when you consume cannabis, THC and other cannabinoids that it contains interact with the areas of your brain that are responsible for fear and mood regulation. Now, whether this actually happens is highly circumstantial, and not everyone experiences paranoia induced by cannabis.
It all comes down to a number of internal and external factors.
This plays a large part. If you are unconformable in your environment, or in a new or unusual one, adding cannabis into the mix may only make things worse. Your body is more likely to be hyperaware of your surroundings, and marijuana can exaggerate and amplify this awareness leading to anxiety.
Smoking or eating a little too much is a surefire way to trigger paranoia. High doses of THC can actually cause these anxiety issues even in those that don’t typically experience them.
As research on cannabis continues, scientists have found that different strains are more likely to cause paranoia than others. Sativa strains are notorious for this, while Indica strains are known to produce a strong physical reaction, and its effects are felt more in the body than the mind.
Another understandable factor is genetics. Your likelihood of experiencing extreme anxiety and paranoia with cannabis may well be genetic, though research on this continues.
Treating anxiety with marijuana.
Medical marijuana has been used to treat depression and other medical conditions for centuries. The same reasons why cannabis may cause paranoia are why the herb may help those with anxiety, as studies have shown that low doses of cannabinoids modeled after THC are potent anxiolytics.
These can, in high doses, product the opposite effect, and make the person using them in large quantities very anxious. But those that suffer with anxiety and stress disorders often find that marijuana plays a part in calming their nerves. The different strains provide different effects, and a number of different cannabis medicines are available — customized for each individual use case.
All this said, more research on this is really needed. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, approximately 3.3 million Americans suffer from anxiety. And while drugs are available that treat anxiety, solutions like Xanax and benzodiazepines are highly addictive and dangerous. Marijuana can help get people off prescription drugs, particularly those with undesirable side effects.
Can cannabis help me with anxiety?
At the end of the day, this is only a question that you can answer. While smoking weed has been shown to play a part in getting people past trauma, bad memories, and negative experiences, and we know that cannabis exhibits natural antianxiety properties, it all comes down to how your body reacts to it.
Everyone experiences effects of cannabis differently, and other factors like strain composition, your setting, and present state of mind also play a part in whether smoking weed will help you with anxiety, or actually exacerbate it.
The only real way to find out is to take micro doses of it — start low and go slow.
And speaking of finding, you will also have to find your perfect strain. Although it is possible to make almost any cannabis work for you, having something that your body readily accepts and your mind readily acts on will be the difference maker.
The effectiveness of self-medicating with marijuana to treat anxiety has been studied, and researchers have found compelling reason to believe that it works for many a people. The only caution is against chronic marijuana use, especially among teenagers, who may already be experiencing high levels of anxiety.
As things stand, the attitudes are already shifting regarding the medical value of marijuana for mental health and wellness.