Anxiety and related disorders have become increasingly prevalent in the United States, impacting the lives of countless individuals.
While traditional treatments involving antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications have proven effective for many, they often come with side effects and considerations.
As a result, more people are exploring alternative approaches to address their anxiety, with cannabis and its derivatives, such as CBD, gaining attention.
However, it’s crucial to recognize that while cannabis may hold promise as an anxiety remedy, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Here, we’ll explore the intricacies of using cannabis and CBD for anxiety, shedding light on the components and considerations that can influence the suitability of these treatments.
Understanding Cannabis and Its Components
Before diving into the anxiety treatment realm, it’s essential to clarify a common misconception: the distinction between cannabis and marijuana.
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they carry slightly different meanings. Cannabis is a plant that encompasses two primary components of interest: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the euphoric “high” associated with cannabis use. On the other hand, CBD does not induce this high and offers a different spectrum of effects.
Marijuana, a specific category of cannabis, tends to be rich in THC. The effects of THC on stress and anxiety are dose-dependent.
Lower THC doses can reduce stress, offering a sense of relaxation and ease. However, higher doses may lead to unwanted effects, including panic, paranoia, and heightened anxiety. It’s a delicate balance that must be carefully managed, as emphasized by psychiatrist Dr. Amanda Kingston.
On the flip side, CBD, a non-psychoactive compound, has garnered attention for its potential to alleviate stress and anxiety at all doses.
Unlike THC, CBD does not induce the adverse effects typically associated with higher THC concentrations.
This quality makes CBD a more attractive option for those seeking relief from stress and anxiety. CBD is legally available for sale both online and in stores due to its non-psychoactive nature.
While some individuals may report positive experiences with marijuana in managing anxiety, it’s essential to understand that this approach is not universally recommended.
Individuals with diagnosed psychiatric conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or those with a family history of psychosis, should exercise caution when considering marijuana use, especially products with high THC levels.
For these individuals, marijuana may exacerbate existing symptoms or induce risky decision-making.
Additionally, individuals taking certain psychiatric medications, particularly benzodiazepines, should be mindful, as marijuana can amplify the sedative side effects of these medications.
In contrast, CBD may be a viable option for a broader range of individuals, particularly those dealing with social anxiety or stress related to life events. Dr. Kingston notes that marijuana is primarily recommended for individuals experiencing chronic stress, and its efficacy may vary from person to person.
CBD, however, has demonstrated its effectiveness in managing stress and anxiety for a wide range of individuals and is generally considered a safer option.
Whether you opt for marijuana or CBD, making informed decisions is crucial. When purchasing these products, ensure that you do so from reputable sources like dispensaries or businesses that adhere to stringent quality standards.
This ensures the products are accurately labeled and free from potentially harmful additives.
Although the FDA does not yet regulate these products, you can find reliable and controlled CBD products at health food stores, grocery stores, or pharmacies, as recommended by Dr. Kingston.
Source: Jefferson Health