Can Marijuana Reduce Anxiety and Depression?
Everyone can feel anxiety because it’s the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety comes when you feel some fear about the things that don’t come or what’s to come. It’s the most common mental disorder, said to affect at least 30 percent of adults.
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Can marijuana reduce anxiety and depression? Some individuals believe that using marijuana has helped cure their anxiety. Some of its benefits are calmness, relaxation, and a night of better sleep.
This article will tackle the advantages and disadvantages of using marijuana for anxiety. You will also learn about the different anxiety disorders, traditional treatments to cure anxiety, and its symptoms.
A Broader Explanation of Anxiety
The American Psychological Association (APA) defined anxiety as feelings of worry and tension, and associated physical changes.
Having this kind of feeling is normal, like feeling anxious about your first job or a new house. They say that this type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it can help to keep you motivated to work harder.
It is referred to as the ordinary anxiety that comes and goes, meaning that it doesn’t interfere with your everyday life.
The APA also reported that women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men. Having anxiety is a normal feeling, but when left untreated, it’ll get worse.
Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
To help you understand more about anxiety, we listed some of the different disorders:
1. Panic Disorder – In this type of disorder, one experiences panic attacks at unexpected times. People who suffer from this may live in fear, especially of the next panic attack.
2. Social Anxiety Disorder – This is an extreme fear of being judged by people in social situations.
3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – This is marked by recurring irrational thoughts that may lead to repetitive behaviors.
4. Separation Anxiety – This is the fear of being away from loved ones or the things they loved.
5. Illness Anxiety – This is a disorder related to your health, formerly called hypochondria.
6, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD is anxiety resulting from a traumatic event.
7. Phobia – This is an excessive fear of specific things or events.
8. Selective Mutism – This is a form of anxiety that occurs in some children wherein they can’t speak in certain places. An example is a child’s inability to speak up in school even though they have excellent verbal communication skills. It can also be a form of social phobia.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Although having anxiety is normal, the person who has it might feel out of control.
People who experience this suffer from nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts that they can’t control. Listed below are some of the symptoms of anxiety.
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulties sleeping
Note that the symptoms above are different from someone else’s experience. That’s why it’s better to consult a doctor immediately.
What Causes Anxiety?
The causes of anxiety are complicated because anxiety might occur only once, or only in the presence of certain things. These are the possible causes of anxiety and depression:
- Environmental Stressors – Examples of these are difficulties at work, misunderstandings in relationships, and family issues.
- Genetics – Yes, anxiety can be genetic, especially if your family members suffer from it.
- Medical Factors – Among the examples of this are symptoms of different diseases, effects of medications, stress due to surgery, and a long recovery.
- Brain Chemistry – Psychologists say that anxiety can be caused by the misalignment of hormones and electrical signals in one’s brain.
- Withdrawal from an illicit substance can cause intense anxiety.
Marijuana as a Treatment for Anxiety
When you’re diagnosed with anxiety, doctors can offer treatment options. While some people prefer to have medical treatment, others prefer to use marijuana.
In a survey conducted in 2017, 81 percent of 9,000 Americans believed that marijuana has health benefits. Those respondents stated that anxiety, depression, and stress relief are some of the benefits.
Two of the reasons why they believe that marijuana helps cure anxiety are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the psychoactive compound that produces the high from marijuana. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that has a potential therapeutic purpose.
A licensed counselor in Olympia, Washington said that her clients testify to the benefits of using marijuana for anxiety.
Advantages of Using Marijuana for Anxiety
Here is a list of ways that marijuana can help with anxiety:
1. It can help reduce depression.
2. It promotes a sense of calmness.
3. It helps with relaxation.
4. It promotes sleep.
Disadvantages of Using Marijuana for Anxiety and Depression
While some people see marijuana as their saving grace for anxiety, others do not. In fact, some say it worsens their symptoms.
- Increased heart rate
- Too much thinking or racing thoughts
- Negatively effect on concentration
- Hallucinations or confusion
- Brain fog or a “numb” state
- Difficulty sleeping
- Decreased motivation level
- Possibility of a higher level of psychiatric disorders
- Long-term memory loss
- Possible development of cannabis hyperemesis syndrome
- Increase in tolerance and needs, which can create psychological dependence
The side effects of marijuana, when used for depression, will depend on the method of consumption.
It can either treat your depression or lead to depression.
Marijuana can trigger schizophrenia or psychosis, especially in people who are at high risk for these conditions.
People who use marijuana to treat depression may suffer from a cough or throat irritation.
What Are Treatments for Anxiety and Depression?
Anxiety and depression can occur separately. However, if you have anxiety, you might also suffer from depression.
That anxiety can lead to depression. The worsening symptoms of depression are triggered by an anxiety disorder.
These two mental health disorders can be treated and managed by the same treatments: counseling, medications, self-medication, and a change in lifestyle.
Or meeting with a therapist or psychologist—is one of the treatments that people with anxiety can try. That’s because, with such treatments, they’ll be able to learn tools or strategies to cope with it.
One of the ways that psychological counseling helps with anxiety is through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBD). CBD helps the person recognize and change harmful thought patterns that cause anxiousness.
Practitioners of CBD limit and change the way people react to objects and situations that may trigger anxiety and depression.
Antidepressants and sedatives are typically used to treat anxiety and depression. This medication helps balance a person’s brain chemistry. It also prevents anxiety and eliminates severe symptoms.
- Benzodiazepines – Doctors may prescribe this to certain persons with anxiety, but it is quite addictive. These types of drugs have side effects including possible dependence and drowsiness. Valium or Diazepam is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines.
- Antidepressants – Serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs are often used because they are believed to have fewer side effects than other antidepressants. Some antidepressants include citalopram and fluoxetine.
- Tricyclics – These drugs provide benefits for most anxiety disorders other than OCD. However, these drugs can cause dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness, and weight gain. Imipramine and clomipramine are considered tricyclics.
In some cases, the symptoms of anxiety disorder and depression are treatable without clinical supervision.
There are exercises that you can do in the comfort of your house to cope with milder, more focused, and short-term anxiety.
Try some of the following:
- Relaxation Tips – Deep breathing exercises, resting in the dark, taking long baths, and practicing yoga are some ways to ease your anxiety and depression.
- Manage Your Stress – Learning to manage your stress will help limit the triggers. To achieve this, organize your time and schedule to avoid cramming through deadlines. Compile all the tasks you’re about to do, whether for school or work.
- Support Network – When you’re suffering from anxiety disorders and depression, it’s recommended that you have a support system. One natural way to help you cope is to talk with your family and friends about it. There are also support groups online or in your local area.
- Change of Lifestyle – This is an effective and natural way to relieve some of the anxieties and stress you’re feeling. Here is a list of things that you can do to eliminate or avoid those mental disorders:
- Get enough sleep
- Start a healthy diet
- Stay active and start exercising
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking
- Room for Yourself – Try cutting out extra responsibilities that add stress to your life and cause depression. Give yourself time to breathe whenever you’re down.
- Journaling – This can help you keep track of your daily life, especially when you feel sadness, fear, and anger.
- Acquaintances – If you’re feeling depressed, try not to isolate yourself because your depression will only get worse. It’s better to go out and attend a social event in your community.
- Have a plan – It can help you to add structure to your everyday work. For example, have a reminder on your phone about an upcoming event so that you won’t miss any responsibilities.
Tips When Using Marijuana for Anxiety and Depression
If you’re curious and want to see the effectiveness of marijuana, keep these tips in mind:
- Take CBD over THC – Start with a product that has more CBD than THC. As discussed, the higher the THC is, the greater the possibility of making your symptoms worse.
- Take it slow – We all know that, when taking any medication, starting with a low dose is advisable. The same applies to using marijuana. Remember that you won’t see the results ASAP.
- Purchase from a dispensary – They say that if you buy marijuana from a dispensary, you know you’re getting a legitimate product. That’s because they have the knowledge and will offer you guidance based on your symptoms.
- Know its complications – Marijuana can interact with the effectiveness of any of the prescribed medications you’re taking, including vitamins and supplements. That’s why it’s better to let your healthcare provider know you’re using it. If you’re not comfortable with this, you can also tell the pharmacist.
- Be open about it with your therapist – Your therapist should know that you’re using marijuana for your anxiety and depression. They can help you evaluate how well it will work with your symptoms and give you additional guidance.
Can the Food We Eat Treat Anxiety?
We have listed some of the medications you can try when treating anxiety and depression. However, are you aware that some foods help treat anxiety and depression?
According to research, some foods have a beneficial impact on the brain if you use them more often when you have anxiety attacks. Check some of them below:
- Salmon – Has nutrients that promote brain health, like Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and DHA.
- Chamomile – We all know that this herb has lots of health benefits. It contains some of the antioxidants that reduce inflammation, which helps decrease the risk of anxiety.
- Turmeric – This contains curcumin, a compound that helps promote brain health and prevent anxiety disorders.
- Dark Chocolate – This can be incorporated into your diet to help ease or eliminate anxiety. It contains flavonoids, which may benefit the function of our brains. These flavonoids help improve blood flow to the brain. They can also help you adapt to stressful things.
- Yogurt – The probiotics or healthy bacteria found in some yogurts help promote good mental health. They inhibit neurotoxins and radicals that damage nerve tissue in the brain and that can cause anxiety.
- Green Tea – This has L-theanine, an amino acid that has positive effects on the brain and that lessens anxiety. Some studies showed decreased cortisol levels in those who drank beverages with L-theanine.
In general, marijuana as a treatment for anxiety and depression doesn’t always have a positive result. That’s why, before using it, you should consult a doctor or psychiatrist.