For this edition of our Cannabis and Conditions blog series, we want to focus on Anxiety and Panic Disorder. This can be a crippling condition to live with and one in which many of the sufferers are constantly seeking for ways to just feel normal.
Anxiety and panic disorders are not the typical anxiety and stress that one may feel at different times. Living with these disorders often complicates everyday life so much that it makes normal living seem impossible. The four main types of anxiety and panic disorders are as follows:
- Panic disorder – random terror strikes.
- Social anxiety / social phobia – debilitating self-consciousness and excessive worry about social situations with a fixation on others judging you.
- Specific phobias – intense, inappropriate amount of fear towards certain objects or situations, such as spiders or being in an elevator, that can cause one to avoid ordinary occurrences.
- Generalized anxiety disorder – excessive worry, tension, and unrealistic fear with little or no reason.
Anxiety and panic disorders are found in 18.1% or 40 million adults between the age of 18 and 54 living in the United States. This number is thought to more accurately be 30% or more, based on the people who don’t seek help, are misdiagnosed, or don’t realize they have the disorder.
In addition to the panic and fear felt, most anxiety disorders come with the same general symptoms:
- Sleep issues
- Inability to stay calm and still
- Cold, sweaty, numb or tingling hands and/or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Dry mouth
A big part of the typical treatment for anxiety and panic disorders is the prescription of drugs. The use of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Celexa, Zoloft, and Prozac) and SNRIs (selective serotonin and norepinephrine inhibitors) affect the serotonin receptors to help control mood. Antidepressants are also prescribed often to help regulate the brain functions. However, these all come with their own long list of potential side effects. Imagine a commercial for one of these drugs? Usually the list of side effects is longer than the commercial itself!
Treating with Cannabis
Treating anxiety successfully with cannabis really comes down to the type of strain used. There are many strains that have been found to be great for relieving anxiety and some that have been strongly advised against. A lot of people think that this has to do with choosing an indica over a sativa or vis versa depending on the person, but deeper studies into terpenes have shown that they could be the underlying factor that determines what strains will be good for anxiety.
CBD has also been discussed lately as a way to help against anxiety without feeling the high from THC. The way CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system and receptors in the brain seems to have a calming effect over the entire body.
Again, like treating most conditions with cannabis, it’s important to experiment. Figure out what strains you like and if THC or CBD works best for your particular anxiety.
According to verywellmind.com, “Scientists at Washington State University published a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders that found that smoking cannabis can significantly reduce self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in the short term.”
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If you are thinking about using cannabis as an alternative treatment, do your own research to obtain all the information necessary for you to make the decision. We can answer many questions and give you recommendations but the research and decision is up to you. We are not licensed physicians. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any cannabis product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.