Marijuana For Anxiety: What You Need To Know

With the severe negative effects of pharmaceuticals prescribed for anxiety disorders, people are turning to cannabis to relieve their symptoms. This age-old plant encourages anxiety relief and interacts with your body’s chemistry for relief.

Marijuana for Anxiety: The Highlights

  • Most self-medicating users of marijuana are seeking its anxiety alleviating properties.
  • The psychoactive compound THC is the well-known agent producing the high and thus inducing a state of anxiety
  • CBD, on the other hand, is the other major cannabinoid, interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system in a manner that helps it balance itself.
  • Cannabis-induced anxiety is a condition often met by first-time users, which is why it comes in hand to know how to ease the effects of a powerful high.
  • Clinical research regarding the treatment of anxiety with marijuana revealed a wide palette of reactions through the personal experience consumers had with the substance,

Marijuana For Anxiety: The Good and the Bad

Marijuana’s paradoxical relation with anxiety is proof of the complex effect of its cannabinoids and their interplay, as well as evidence of the differences of our particular chemistries.

Medical studies are only beginning to explore marijuana as a treatment for anxiety, but people suffering from this condition have been self-medicating with this plant for a long time.

There are plenty of personal accounts stating the positive effects of the cannabis high on an anxious mind.

Conversely, there’s almost the same number of testimonies of marijuana producing anxiety and paranoia, or rather inflaming this effect in those who are liable to experience similar states of mind in the rest of the time as well.

How Marijuana Affects the Brain

It is intriguing why cannabis works for some in alleviating their anxiety levels, whereas in others it has the contrary effect. This can be considered ironic because those who suffer anxiety attacks after consuming marijuana are mostly the people that would benefit from its well-known relaxing potential.

Science can partly explain the chemical interactions occurring in the body when consuming marijuana.

On a psychological level, it is rather understandable why individuals who are prone to worry, to get nervous and scared, are consequently more exposed to repeating these mental patterns and experiencing their outcomes.

This happens mostly because marijuana is, in fact, enhancing one’s natural state of being, as well as due to its precious ability to uncover most profound and difficult truths and problems of one’s being, through THC’s powerful psychotropic effect.

Two silhouettes of brains. One has weed, the other pills.

Coming in contact with THC, the body’s own cannabinoid receptors trigger the production of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.

While for most people, the boost of serotonin and GABA that impede norepinephrine, the neurotransmitter related to anxiety and alertness, has a calming reaction, for others, it’s exactly the other way around.

In those cases, the diminished activity of norepinephrine has the counter-effect of excessively animating the limbic forebrain and the brain’s locus ceruleus, dealing with arousal and excitement.

This is reflected on a physical level through the release of cortisol and the acceleration of the heartbeat, which is erroneously translated by the brain as anxiety. On top of that, the increase of the dopamine levels is generating the mental agitation that we perceive as paranoia.

As we can see, marijuana has different reactions in interference with different brain chemistries.

Even though, in general, the anxiety attack is something characteristic for the high of a first time user when trying a batch that’s strong in THC, there are cases where the negative, anxiety enhancing effects persist when smoking on a regular basis.

This points out an obvious incompatibility.

Cannabis-Induced Anxiety Disorder: What is It?

It’s well-known that the powerful high that you get when you first use Cannabis can manifest as a true psychotic crisis, anxiety and paranoia attack in which troubling physical sensations are amplified by tormenting thoughts.

A high THC strain interferes with the normal body functions, accelerating the heartbeat, inducing a relaxation that can sometimes transform into dizziness and a sore mouth.

On top of that, the senses are sharpened to the extent of hearing the processes inside your body and seeing the surroundings in higher definition.

With this, the whole system of perception gets distracted, generating a state of mellow disorientation that can easily slip into confusion.

Word cloud for anxiety and marijuana

Therefore, the Cannabis high can be difficult to contain for newbies, and for mentally vulnerable individuals it may even be a powerful trigger to push a latent condition of imbalance into acute manifestation.

The Cannabis effect is not called ‘high’ for anything, it’s owed partly to the uplifted state of being that it induces and also to the sensation of floating, of being in a bubble separated from your surrounding.

This type of anxiety provoked by the dissociation from the immediate reality is what medical literature considers the stem of the depersonalization-derealization disorder, a condition that most of us meet in accidental episodes.

This condition has been diagnosed more and more lately as persistent in many and mostly associated with the use of marijuana.

While clinical research is still fresh in this area, what can be stated is that people with prior experiences of panic attacks, phobias or anxiety, are more likely to live all these again when consuming cannabis.

There’s also a series of other disorders that are either revealed or intensified by the use of Marijuana, for first-time users as well as veterans. Another often met case of cannabis-induced anxiety is when a person that consumes it regularly, is trying to quit the habit.

Although cannabis has one of the lightest withdrawal symptoms, the state of anxiety is one of them and it is nonetheless troublesome until the organism gets rebalanced.

What Does Cannabis Anxiety Feel Like?

The Cannabis anxiety that most users have experienced with their first trials is something that we all laugh about afterward. These sensations can manifest as a tormenting state of mind, coupled with confusing physical sensations which are exacerbated by the worrying mind.

The physical sensations can come as sweat, nausea, dizziness and an avalanche of paranoid thoughts.

These can include social phobias of being spotted, judged, condemned for life, to a hypochondriac frenzy when one thinks that something is very wrong with him or her or that his internal organs will stop functioning and that he will eventually die.

Of course, all of these are only phantasms of a ‘stoned’ brain, but they shouldn’t be dismissed and made fun of, for the moments are truly terrifying and unfortunately for some, first times are also last times.

Marijuana for Treating Anxiety

Despite the ongoing tale of cannabis inducing anxiety, most of the users are consuming the plant especially to alleviate their stress, tensions, mental agitation and a number of other symptoms that we can find under the umbrella of clinic anxiety and depression.

CBD for Anxiety

CBD formula with bottle of CBD oil

Most of the controversy regarding the use of marijuana for anxiety comes from the studies of the two main cannabinoids responsible for the therapeutic as well as negative effects.

Each cannabinoid affects different areas of the body and brain with different outcomes. The general perception is that the psychotropic properties of THC are to blame for the panic attacks that supervene with the powerful high.

However, one cannot disregard THC’s ability to recircuiting neural paths. This can help the anxious mind reframe or bypass old thought patterns and write new healthy ones.

In this line of research, it’s been evidenced that CBD, the non-psychotropic compound of the cannabis plant, is able to induce the expected state of calm and relaxation, without affecting the normal functioning of the brain.

CBD is mostly praised for reducing social anxiety and thus aiding in circumstances where people are dealing with public pressure.

CBD vs. THC Effects in the Brain: The Key to Anxiety from Cannabis?

While THC, as we’ve seen, targets the cannabinoid receptors of the human body that spawn the production of the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters, CBD’s action is a more organic one, aiding the organism in producing its own endocannabinoids with anti-anxiolytic effects.

CBD interferes with the 5-HT1A receptor responsible with the regulation of serotonin, and consequently an essential agent for balancing the state of mind.

Going further, this non-psychoactive cannabinoid, as its counterpart, THC, is also engaging dopamine, the neurotransmitter related to the feeling of reward, as well as anandamide, accountable for the appetite for life.

Moreover, CBD is believed to support the growth of neurons in the hippocampus, which aids memory and furthers one’s control over anxiety.

CBD or THC: Which is Better for Treating Anxiety?

Considering the possible anxiolytic effects of a Cannabis strain with a high concentration of THC, CBD becomes the relevant solution for those who proceed to use Marijuana as a treatment for anxiety.

It is obviously the safest choice for it does not activate brain processes of worrying and panicking, which are prevalent in anxious individuals, by affecting the physical functions of the organism without provoking the ‘high’ effect.

Marijuana leaf, on one side THC on the other CBD

Of course, on the medical plane as well as in the public eye, there’s much controversy on the subject, given the fact that the principal differentiating factor between legal cannabis and illegal Marijuana, is the THC concentration of the plant.

As such, the general opinion is divided amidst those that dismiss the potentially dangerous THC, and others that praise the use of the entire plant, advocating for the interplay of the cannabinoids as the successful remedy.

What To Do When Experiencing Anxiety from Cannabis

The first troubling symptoms are the physical ones, but they’re greatly aggravated when the mind enters a state of panic.

So, to begin with, try to remain calm and take deep, long breaths, which would lower your heart rate and diminish the sensation of nausea.

A bit of fresh air and a splash of cold water over your face and neck will do miracles in regaining your stamina. Take care when you get up from the couch and move gently as otherwise, a sudden change of pressure may cause further dizziness.

Nonetheless, moving is a good way to get over the high, as it centers you in the moment and in space, in your surroundings, by keeping your mind attached to the immediate reality.

A small bite and a sip of lemonade will refresh your act, and after all these, it will be a lot easier to stay focused and acknowledge that it’s all but a temporary state.

Cannabis: Treatment and Potential Trigger for Anxiety

The opinions regarding the treatment of anxiety with cannabis that any advice becomes superfluous in the face of so many contradicting studies and testimonies of individual experiences.

What stands out is the fact that the effect of the cannabis plant is complex and dependable on the specific chemistry of each person, so all react differently to this interaction.

The personal encounter is the most relevant answer to whether cannabis can be a treatment for anxiety or a trigger.

Before trying cannabis, it would be beneficial to seek some advice regarding how to mellow the high in the case you experience an anxiety attack.

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