If you smoke marijuana, odds are you’d never doubt the claim that medical marijuana treats anxiety and depression. In fact, a mellow state of mind—and maybe a case of the munchies—tops the list of the most widely known side effects.
Relaxation sounds like the perfect antidote for anxiety, don’t you think?
More than 9,000 Americans participated in a 2017 national survey and 81% of them stated they believed marijuana had one or more health benefits. “Anxiety, stress, and depression relief” was listed specifically by nearly half of them.
It turns out, though, that lots of people say smoking marijuana intensifies their anxiety.
What’s up with that?
Many of us look forward to sinking into a state of relaxation when we light up. For those suffering from stress and anxiety, though, does it trigger a different response?
It looks like the answer is a definite maybe and has to do with the individual’s response to the main “active ingredients” in pot.
- THC—the psychoactive compound—is responsible for the “high” we associate with marijuana.
- CBD—the non-psychoactive compound—is used to treat a variety of therapeutic purposes.
Higher levels of THC can increase anxiety symptoms in some people. For instance, they could experience increased heart rate coupled with racing thoughts. A higher level of CBD, on the other hand, tends to have a more calming effect on the body.
Positive effects on anxiety
Those who benefit from using medical marijuana to treat anxiety list the same effects that most of us identify with smoking pot.
- Increased sense of calm
- Improved relaxation
- Better sleep
- Peace of mind
That said, medical marijuana can reduce the following negative symptoms:
- Social anxiety
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Panic disorder
- Sleep disruptions
However, it’s important to note that if you use marijuana as a treatment for anxiety, it’s not a cure. In fact, it’s reported that while marijuana can offer temporary relief, it hasn’t been proven to be as effective as other treatment options, such as psychotherapy or pharmaceutical medications.
Tips to try
If you’re thinking about trying medical marijuana to treat your anxiety, experts on the subject suggest the following:
- CBD over THC—Start with higher levels of CBD and low—or no—levels of THC
- Less may be more—start with a low dose and give it plenty of time to kick in before you use more
- Get your pot from a dispensary—trained staff can guide you to take home the strain that’s best suited to treat your symptoms
- Talk to your therapist—if you’re working with a professional, they can help you evaluate how well medical marijuana is working for you.
The only way to know for sure if your anxiety symptoms will decrease—or disappear—using marijuana is to give it a try. It’s a good idea to start with a low dose and see how things go.
Hopefully, you’ll soon experience the “Ahhhh” effect for yourself. If so, you’ll know that you’ve found a treatment that works at last!