Anxiety disorders can be difficult to treat effectively, and for many patients, medical marijuana has provided a helpful solution. Still, the relationship between cannabis and anxiety can be complex. Finding the right product and dosage can achieve much needed symptom relief, while the wrong strain at the wrong time can make matters worse. We’ve helped many patients successfully navigate cannabis use for anxiety and we hope the following tips and strategies will provide the answers you need.
The symptoms of an anxiety disorder can range in severity from general nervousness to crippling panic, depression, and physical responses. Commonly prescribed medications such as Benzodiazepines and SSRIs can be effective, but many patients report serious side effects. Difficulties with dependency, mood changes, and physical reactions have led many anxiety sufferers to consider medical cannabis as an alternative treatment.
While many patients report immediate relief of anxiety symptoms when using cannabis, others have experienced mixed results. Patients using medical marijuana for other conditions sometimes report experiencing anxiety as a side effect of cannabis itself. Whether you’re seeking to treat anxiety directly with cannabis, or simply minimize anxiety-related side effects while using cannabis for other conditions, we’ve found that selecting the right product and dosage is the key to success.
Although the mood-altering effects of medical marijuana can be pleasant for many patients, there’s no question that strong doses can produce an opposite effect. Patients seeking to avoid anxiety symptoms are encouraged to carefully control their dose to avoid becoming over-medicated. Small doses can be effective at elevating mood and relieving symptoms like stress and depression. One or two light inhalations of smoked or vaporized cannabis should be enough to feel a mild effect and assess your comfort level before consuming more. Cannabis is fast-acting when inhaled, allowing patients to carefully adjust their dosage to achieve the desired effect.
Oral cannabis products such as edibles and tinctures should be approached with caution when treating anxiety symptoms, since these products are slower-acting. The full effect of an edible product may not set in for up to an hour, making it difficult to achieve a precise dose with anticipated effects. Patients treating anxiety are encouraged to begin with very small doses when trying a new edible product. Dispensary staff will be happy to assist you in understanding product dosage and potency. Some patients with severe anxiety symptoms choose to avoid edible products entirely, but they can be effective when dosage is carefully controlled.
Choosing the right strain for your individual needs is as important as controlling your dose. While experiences with individual strains often vary from one patient to the next, there are a few guidelines to consider when choosing a strain for anxiety symptoms. As a general rule, indica strains produce a more physical effect that is less mentally stimulating. For this reason, indica selections are a good place to start, with numerous common varieties that are popular for reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
Sativa strains are known for increasing energy and alertness and, though sometimes helpful, may be a riskier choice in this case. Popular sativa-dominant varieties such as Haze and Diesel strains are known for elevating mood, but some patients do report anxious reactions to certain sativas. Patients seeking a strain for daytime use will generally find sativas most helpful, but should consult with a sales associate at the dispensary to determine which sativa selections are best for anxiety.
Finally, patients treating anxiety symptoms often report excellent results from strains with elevated levels of CBD. This increasingly available option is particularly popular for relieving stress because CBD is known to counteract some of the stimulating and intoxicated effects of THC. CBD-rich strains in either the indica or sativa category may be helpful and are quickly becoming a favorite in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Finding relief from the debilitating effects of anxiety can be a difficult challenge, and we’re excited to see medical marijuana providing relief for many patients we serve. Though the role of cannabis in anxiety treatment can be nuanced, we continue to hear from patients who find success with the right strain in the right dose. Discovering the products that work best for you can make a world of difference and our team is eager to help you find what you’re looking for.