Medical Marijuana and Anxiety

Recently, researchers have been studying the connection between medical marijuana and anxiety. As medical marijuana’s use becomes more acceptable in society, more researchers are discovering its properties as an anxiety remedy. Cannabis has also been used to treat glaucoma, PTSD, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s.

Medical marijuana has two main active ingredients, THC and CBD. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive chemical. THC is associated with the “high” of marijuana. CBD (cannabidiol) is non-psychoactive, which means there is no “high” associated with its use. For patients who do not wish to get high but would still like the therapeutic effects of marijuana, CBD oil is recommended. CBD oil does not contain THC, which means the patient can benefit from its medicinal properties without significantly altering their cognitive processes.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “CBD reduce[s] anxiety in patients with social anxiety.” It also minimizes behavioral and physiological measures of anxiety and stress in animals. CBD is believed to be an anxiety remedy due to its “alterations in serotonin receptor 1a signaling” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). In the University of Washington’s report titled, “Effects of Marijuana on Mental Health,” Susan Stoner concludes, “Pure THC appears to decrease anxiety at lower doses and increase anxiety at higher doses… Pure CBD appears to decrease anxiety at all doses that have been tested.”

Risks of Using Medical Marijuana as an Anxiety Remedy

As scientists better understand the interactions between medical marijuana and anxiety, they further uncover the risks of self-medicating with medical marijuana. Self-medicating occurs when one uses a substance to cope with a problem without the authorization of their physician. Without moderation, one can become dependent on the substance. Since medical marijuana’s therapeutic effects start quickly, this can lead to a reliance on it whenever the patient feels the need for relief. When one has such easy access to an anxiety remedy, it can cause them to not develop a long-term strategy to treat their symptoms. Since the consequences of long-term medical marijuana use have not been thoroughly studied, it is not recommended to habitually self-medicate.

Other risks of chronic marijuana use are long-term memory loss and an increase in anxiety symptoms. The long-term memory loss stems from THC’s effect on the brain’s hippocampus, which is responsible for constructing memories.  Anxiety symptoms can increase due to THC’s ability of increasing one’s heart rate. For people unfamiliar with this feeling, it can make them more anxious. Overconsumption of marijuana can also lead to feelings of paranoia or unsafety. Overconsumption can also cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and blurred vision. This is why it is important to talk to your physician about the proper dosage for your particular health condition. If one is taking proper care and using cannabis responsibly, their short-term anxiety is likely to be mitigated.

Finally, marijuana users can quickly develop a tolerance for its effects. This means that the patient would need to use more marijuana to feel the same effects as before. If this pattern continues, they would be much more reliant on the substance and require much higher doses in the future. To avoid developing a tolerance, some people take frequent breaks from cannabis. As always, it is recommended to speak with your physician and determine the proper schedule for your marijuana consumption.

Medical Marijuana and Anxiety: Quick Facts

According to Washington State University’s study on medical marijuana’s effects on alleviating negative symptoms, “women reported larger reductions in anxiety as a function of cannabis than did men.” While the scientists concluded that medical marijuana “significantly reduced ratings of depression, anxiety, and stress,” they also cautioned that using cannabis to treat depression appears to increase depression over time.

Anxiety Treatment Options

While medical marijuana has been used as an anxiety remedy, it is not recommended to be used as the sole treatment. Cannabis should be used in tandem with other treatments so that patients have a well-rounded coping strategy. Therapy is a highly recommended treatment. When a patient combines medical marijuana and therapy, they are building a solid foundation for their recovery. Marijuana can help them with their short-term coping while therapy will offer strategies, coping mechanisms, and thought exercises that will lead to long-term success in anxiety management. One may also use anxiety prescriptions as a substitute for medical marijuana. Marijuana’s calming effects can put a patient at ease while they continue their journey to successful anxiety management.

Next Steps

If you believe that medical marijuana would be beneficial to treating your anxiety, we recommend that you contact Express Marijuana Card. Our state certified Floridian physicians will offer you a full evaluation and physical exam to determine your level of need and how medical marijuana can best help you. After your consultation and qualification, you will be issued a marijuana card. We will also help with scheduling your refills and offer a 24/7 physician hotline for our patients. Click here to learn more about our packages.

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