Marijuana has been used for treating different sorts of health issues for centuries, which lead to legalizing it (at least for medical use) in a number of states across the world.
With the new research being funded by several liberal governments, we are heading towards a new era of treating disorders with one of the world’s most favorite plants. However, when it comes to marijuana and anxiety, users have divided opinions and experiences.
Some people struggle with more or less intense feelings of paranoia and anxiety as a consequence of using marijuana, while others feel much relaxed and relieved from anxiety-related symptoms.
Why is that the case?
The answer to this lies in marijuana’s chemical structure and its amount of active ingredients known as cannabinoids.
Without a doubt, not all marijuana strains are the same and it’s important to point out that some of them have a unique impact on every individual.
So, does marijuana cause or cure anxiety?
Let’s see what science has to say.
What Is Anxiety?
Coping with stress at the workplace, being slightly nervous before taking the test… We all feel anxious from time to time and that is a perfectly normal part of life.
Anxiety is an emotion which occurs while feeling uneasy and worried in the expectation of future events, and it’s not something to be mistaken with fear which is a reaction to present situation.
Anxious people will also experience weakness, muscular tension, nervousness, slightly faster heart rate and problems with concentration.
However, while anxiety is our appropriate emotional response to occasional future “threat”, feeling anxious on daily basis is something that is called anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental issues caused by genetics or external influence, followed by a feeling of mixed fear and anxiety. Having an anxiety disorder can interfere with person’s everyday activities, relations, and overall performance.
Most common anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder — feeling excessive, usually unnecessary and unrealistic worry for several months.
- Phobia — an irrational fear triggered by certain objects, situations, animals, and even humans.
- Social anxiety disorder — fear of social situations or performance, resulting in avoidance of social interactions or public speaking.
- Selective mutism — when a person capable of speech has difficulties speaking with certain people.
- Separation anxiety disorder — expressing an excessive level of fear and anxiety of separation from a person. Separation anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development but can evolve into disorder, even affecting adults.
- Panic disorder — unexpected panic attacks and intense fear.
Although symptoms may vary from one type of anxiety disorder to another, there are some symptoms that can occur in all of them, such as feelings of fear, panic, being uncomfortable, problems with sleeping, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, cold or sweaty hands and feet and many more.
Anxiety disorders affect about 11% of Canadians and 18% of the US population. It can occur with other mental disorders and is usually treated through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and medications.
Some of these methods can be very effective with some patients and less effective with others. But some, like CBT, require time and effort from both the patient and the psychiatrist.
Lately, more and more doctors claim there is a much faster solution:
How Marijuana Affects Anxiety?
Humans have a natural endocannabinoid system which regulates many bodily functions, including anxiety. When certain cannabinoids are introduced to the body, they have been shown to significantly reduce anxiety.
Medications for treating anxiety usually targets secretion of serotonin (hormone of happiness) in our body. Conveniently enough, the studies found that CBD (second biggest cannabinoid in marijuana) can positively influence our serotonin receptors, thus producing similar effects.
As I said previously, marijuana can relieve anxiety in some people, while it can trigger it in someone else. It all depends on the plant specific chemical composition.
There are at least 400 different chemical compounds in cannabis.