Anxiety disorders, which are characterised by excessive feelings of apprehension, worry, and even fear, are among the most common mental health disorders in Australia. Recent statistics (pre Covid-19) show that more than 12% of the population have reported that they have been diagnosed with either an anxiety or mood disorder. The exact number of anxiety sufferers is unknown, given the number of people who do not seek treatment.
Anxiety disorders are often chronic in nature, lasting at least six months, and tend to get worse without treatment. Contrary to popular belief, anxiety disorders often do not get better with time. Symptoms can certainly come and go, but treatment is still usually necessary. Anxiety disorders can cause serious impairments in one’s life, with social and occupational impairments being among the most common. There are also many different types of anxiety disorders, including panic attacks, agoraphobia, social phobias, generalised anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic disorder (PTSD).
CBD or THC?
Recent research has shown that medical cannabis can be very effective for treating anxiety symptoms. Findings suggest that medical cannabis can help combat the endless worrying and nervousness that comes with anxiety disorders. However, answering the question “will medical cannabis treat my anxiety?” is not so simple, as people often react differently to cannabis.
There are two main active compounds in cannabis – CBD and THC. Each has its individual effects and benefits. Depending on the medical condition, one can be more beneficial than the other. When using medical cannabis for anxiety, it’s important to use the one best suited for you.
Current research generally indicates that:
· CBD shows slight anxiety-reduction properties
· THC shows a greater tendency toward anxiety-induction
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that doesn’t create a “high” feeling. Often, it’s best to choose strains of medical cannabis with higher concentrations of CBD for treating anxiety.
THC, on the other hand, is a psychoactive compound, it creates the “high” feeling which can make people feel on edge or paranoid. In addition, THC is known to trigger the amygdala area of the brain which is responsible for fear and can cause anxiety and paranoia, rather than alleviating your anxiety.
Medical cannabis, if used incorrectly, can have the opposite effect on people suffering from anxiety.
Not everyone reacts to medical cannabis the same way, and what works for others may be different than what works for you. Therefore, it’s strongly advised not to self-medicate. Using medical cannabis for anxiety should be done with the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
How Your Anxiety Can Benefit From Medical Cannabis
There are many potential benefits of using medical cannabis to deal with anxiety. As CBD is the key cannabinoid when it comes to reducing anxiety, CBD products offer the best treatment solutions for different forms of anxiety.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Studies suggest that CBD is particularly helpful in dampening any negative mental effects caused by fear. This could help alleviate some of the constant worrying which results from GAD.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Some studies indicate that CBD lessens anxiety associated with social anxiety disorder by acting on certain areas of the brain. One such study observed that CBD increased blood flow to the part of the brain that relates to interpreting others’ reactions. This process can subdue embarrassing memories and thoughts, improving the way that users can process reactions from people around them.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Studies involving the effects of CBD suggest that cannabinoids can help with treating trauma-related disorders such as PTSD. CBD helps to lessen the effects of and responses to traumatic memories. Compared with conventional means of treating PTSD and similar disorders, using CBD comes with fewer side effects. In combination with its positive effect on traumatic memories, evidence suggests that CBD could present an alternative to typical therapeutic treatments for PTSD. A recent study also suggest that CBD, the main non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, can help to relieve insomnia that results from anxiety and trauma-related disorders.
What is Anxiety?
As they say… “Anxiety can’t define who you are as a person. It’s always you who has the power to define it”. Often, we forget this and get carried away with the web of fear our mind has created! Anxiety is the fear of that unknown which overpowers our logical thinking and tries to control us in our reaction. Anxiety is a state of mind where one over anticipates situations and triggers one’s innate fight or flight mechanism. Uncontrollable panic attacks, dizziness, loss of appetite, nervous breakdown, palpitations, sweating, shivering are some of the major signs that our mind and body show under the captivity of Anxiety. Clinically, anxiety can be further classified into various categories such as:
· Post-Traumatic disorder
· The obsessive-compulsive disorder (commonly known as OCD)
· Panic disorders
· Generalised Anxiety disorder (GAD)
SYMPTOMS OF A PERSON SUFFERING FROM AN ANXIETY DISORDER
· The feeling of excessive irritation
· Excessive fear
· Difficulty managing daily chores and tasks
Cognitive and Physical Symptoms:
· The feeling of losing control over thought processing
· Anxiousness about situations and predicting a negative situation beforehand
· Superficial beliefs
· Guilt-ridden feelings that won’t go away
· Escapism from particular situations
· The gripping feeling of being slow, or a loser
· Avoidance of certain situations involving concentration. This may include avoiding driving, staying alone
· Avoiding public appearances
· The feeling of constantly being judged upon the actions of an individual
· Self-destructing thoughts occurring when anxiety levels stretch way beyond an individual’s control
· Having a suicidal tendency after feeling low is a common sign that anxiety levels need a practitioner’s treatment
Causes of Anxiety:
We all know the existence of the problem, but what we ignore, is how the problem arose. What might have triggered it” How did it get that bad? The cure for the problem starts the very day, the reason for the problem is diagnosed. And going by this, we must know what the reason is to arrive at a solution.
· A stressful or traumatic life incident can be responsible to make a person suffer from an anxiety disorder
· The family history of a person can also be a cause for someone suffering anxiety
· Often, childhood developmental issues can cause a teenager or young adult to suffer anxiety
· Continuous peer pressure
· Over or prolonged use of alcohol
· High degrees of medication with continuous usage can aggravate anxiety issues
· Use of illegal substances or drug dependency
· Long-term psychiatric problems that are ignored due to busy schedules
· Saddening life events
· Misinterpretation or not clearing up the vent of emotional baggage can lead to anxiety issues in the future
MEDICAL CANNABIS TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY
Even after successfully achieving the status of legal consumption in many parts of the world, including Australia, doctors are not fully convinced about administering medical cannabis for complete anxiety relief. Medical cannabis does create a calming and relaxing effect that temporarily dismisses all the anxiety signs and symptoms, even overcoming suicidal tendencies in the worst cases of anxieties.