Marijuana as a Treatment for Anxiety

As more states legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, an increasing number of people are turning to it to treat anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Although scientific study in this area is very limited, there are anecdotal and recent scientific reports of marijuana providing a soothing sensation that helps many people temporarily ease anxious symptoms.

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Self-Medication with Marijuana

Self-medicating occurs when you take it upon yourself to use a substance to manage or cope with a medical problem or symptom. Self-medicating frequently provides instant relief from unpleasant symptoms, promoting its usage.

The problem with self-medication is that, while marijuana usage is becoming increasingly mainstream, there is still a lack of knowledge about the drug’s usefulness for certain medical conditions as well as its long-term repercussions.

Risks and Potential Benefits

Benefits:

  • In the short term, it may help with depression.
  • Anxiety may be temporarily relieved.
  • It has the potential to decrease stress.

The scientific community has only lately begun to investigate the effects of cannabis on anxiety, and the result is that there are some short-term advantages.

In a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers from Washington State University discovered that smoking cannabis can considerably reduce self-reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress in the short term. Repeated use, on the other hand, does not appear to result in any long-term alleviation of symptoms and, in some cases, may instead worsen depression over time.

Risks:

  • Psychiatric illnesses are more prevalent.
  • Possibilities of psychological dependence
  • Long-term memory loss is possible.
  • Symptoms may worsen.
  • It’s possible that you’ll acquire cannabis hyperemesis syndrome
  • Can lead to an increase in tolerance and desire

Marijuana has a variety of effects on your body in addition to getting you high. The chemical ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives marijuana its psychoactive properties, is responsible for the high feeling you may get after smoking or consuming marijuana.

Psychiatric Disorders at Higher Levels

Despite any advantages they may have observed in this respect with short-term usage, it’s probable that persons who use marijuana for an extended period of time have higher levels and symptoms of depression.

Heavy marijuana usage in adolescence (especially among teenage girls) has also been linked to depression and anxiety later in life, according to some studies. With the usage of cannabis, certain people are at danger of developing psychosis.

Psychological Dependence

The main issue with utilizing marijuana as a coping mechanism for anxiety is that it might lead to psychological reliance on the drug.

Because marijuana’s effects are immediate, long-term behavior-based coping techniques may appear less useful at first and be less likely to be established.

Long-Term Memory Loss

Long-term marijuana usage has been linked to memory decline in several studies. THC causes memory impairment through affecting the hippocampus, which is crucial for memory formation in the brain. It can also have a negative impact on the brain’s motivational system.

Increase in Symptoms

THC can increase your heart rate, which can make you feel even more worried if you already experience anxiety. Marijuana abuse might also make you feel terrified or paranoid.

Marijuana can produce orthostatic hypotension, or an abrupt drop in blood pressure when standing, which can make you feel lightheaded or faint. Cannabis can also make you feel dizzy, nauseated, confused, and have blurry vision, all of which might make you feel anxious.

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)

Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is a rare side effect of regular marijuana usage, especially with today’s more strong strains (CHS). This is characterized by cyclical nausea and vomiting.

Because marijuana has been used to reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer treatment, this is perplexing and difficult to diagnose. Sufferers sometimes find comfort in hot baths and showers, but for long-term healing, marijuana abstinence is required.

Escalating Need

Marijuana tolerance can be developed. This implies that the more you use it, the more you’ll need it to obtain the same “high” as you did before.

Marijuana Alternatives

When confronted with anything that feels frightening to you, keep in mind that some anxiety is normal and even beneficial. When anxiety becomes prevalent and difficult to manage, it’s important to seek professional treatment and talk about different options for anxiety management.

Therapy

Proactive coping skills, which can be learnt through therapy, support groups, self-help books, and instructional websites, can help people make long-term changes without the drawbacks of long-term marijuana usage.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other types of treatment can help you figure out what’s causing your anxiety and how to manage it better.

Work with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs.

In the long run, working with a psychotherapist to manage your anxiety will help you get a better handle on your situation.

Medication

Certain prescription drugs, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been proven to be an effective and safe treatment for anxiety disorders. 3

Prescription medication is also preferred to marijuana since the long-term dangers have been well investigated and may be less severe than those associated with long-term marijuana usage. Some anti-anxiety drugs are taken on a regular basis, while others are taken just when intense anxiety or a panic attack strikes.

If you need it, a psychiatrist or your primary care physician can prescribe an anti-anxiety drug.

Cannabidiol Oil (CBD)

CBD oil, a marijuana extract that is commonly applied under the tongue with a dropper, does not contain THC and hence does not provide the same mind-altering effects as marijuana. Although there is some evidence that CBD may be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and addiction, additional clinical studies and study are needed in this area.

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