Feeling anxious? You aren’t alone. Many people find varying degrees of relief with cannabis. We’ll tell you how cannabis works on the fear response and how to find the types and strains of cannabis to help reduce anxiety.
While experiencing anxiety is a normal part of life, anxiety disorders have now become the most common form of mental illness. Affecting more than 40 million Americans—that’s a 19 percent of the population—anxiety can make a big impact on a person’s quality of life.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is characterized by feelings of panic, fear or uneasiness. It can also cause physical symptoms like dizziness, heart palpitations, tingling in the hands and feet, shortness of breath, tense muscles, nausea and insomnia. These symptoms can be frightening and painful, and they can affect everyday life. That said, many patients say their symptoms have been relieved with the help of cannabis. Read on for a personal story about how cannabis can make a difference, as well as ideas for consumption to potentially provide relief.
Alex’s Success with Consuming Cannabis to Help Reduce Anxiety
Alex, a 32-year-old designer from the San Francisco Bay Area, says his anxiety has been greatly helped by cannabis. He reports that, before he started using cannabis during the day, his anxiety was overwhelming.
“I would just be a wreck,” Alex explains. “I would just worry too much about things that honestly didn’t matter, I would focus on the negative aspects, or I would actually get flustered and rush because of my anxiety and make things worse.”
Alex had been using cannabis to relax in the evenings for years but he worried about how it might affect him during the day. He says things changed when he learned about microdosing. “Just taking one hit in the morning before I would go into work…the difference was night and day,” he says. “I would definitely have a more calm feeling overall. I wouldn’t rush things. I wouldn’t let the anxiety or the pressures or stress get to me.”
Alex says that when using these microdosed inhalations of cannabis vapor, he’s able to function much better than he did without cannabis.
That said, he also cautions newcomers to “try it out and experiment with it at home, before you use cannabis to curb anxiety at a workplace or even with friends or social situations. It’s important to know what’s going to work for you in terms of dosage, and even how you’re going to consume it.”
How Cannabis Can Help to Reduce Anxiety
Alex isn’t alone. Patients often report that cannabis helps with their anxiety in a number of ways. While it can help to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety by relaxing muscles, easing chronic pain and reducing nausea, cannabis can also have a direct effect by lessening the intense feelings of anxiety. Research shows that when patients are treated with cannabis, their subjective levels of stress decrease, but their biological markers (including cortisol levels) also dropped. This happens because compounds in the plant, such as cannabidiol (CBD), stimulate the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptor.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) naturally regulates anxiety by dampening excitatory signals in the brain. So, when the ECS is stimulated by cannabinoids, it triggers the same natural response. For patients who have an excess of this anxious activity in the brain, cannabis can play an invaluable role in dampening its effects.
Using Cannabis to Help Reduce Anxiety
If you suffer from anxiety and think cannabis might be right for you, the best first step is to talk to someone in the know, free of charge. Whether you have a medical cannabis card or live in a state where you can purchase through recreational means, we can help you to figure out which strains and methods of using cannabis are best for you.
Vaping and smoking are the most common choices for treating anxiety, but many patients have also found success with edibles and topicals. This can vary greatly from patient to patient, so some experimentation may be necessary.
The same is true when it comes to cannabis strains. While some say cannabis that’s high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) helps reduce their anxiety, others say THC has the opposite effect. If you’re sensitive to the anxiety-inducing effects of THC, looking for varieties high in CBD or tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) may be a better fit. There are many types of cannabis that people find helpful for treating anxiety and its painful symptoms. The best one for you is out there.