Medical Marijuana and Anxiety Disorders

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Author: Katie, Dispensary Technician

The addition of anxiety disorders to the growing list of Pennsylvania’s qualifying conditions for medical marijuana is a huge deal. This allows medical marijuana to be accessible to a larger portion of the population, and it’s truly amazing to consider how many new patients may be able to find some kind of relief. Still, I know that many people can’t help but think “can’t just about anyone say they have anxiety and get a medical marijuana card?”. I get it, everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, some more often than others, and there isn’t really any way to see the depth of someone’s anxiety just by looking at them. That being said, anxiety disorders can be extremely disruptive and debilitating to the daily lives of those who have to deal with them, and medical marijuana has a great deal of potential to help those patients. 

Living with Anxiety Disorders

Like I said before, many people experience anxiety from time to time, so it can seem almost too common to be as serious as it is. However, living with an anxiety disorder can disrupt daily life just as much as any other ailment, it just may not always be visible on the outside. Obviously, anxiety disorders cause, you guessed it, anxiety, restlessness, and fatigue, but people with anxiety disorders can also suffer from physical symptoms like sweating, shaking, gastrointestinal problems, increased heart rate, and panic attacks. Experiencing these feelings and symptoms without having a sense of control over them can be extremely debilitating to daily life, and it can feel like there’s no end to it in sight. Cannabis has the potential to aid patients with anxiety and increasing the accessibility of medical marijuana could have a great impact.

Not to be all weird or anything, but as someone who suffers from major anxiety (my default setting is anxious, so I will get personal, feel free to skip this part), I’ve experienced firsthand how helpful medical marijuana can be. My anxiety attacks are unpredictable, and they’re frequently not even triggered by anything in particular; I feel trapped in my own body and I can barely function well enough to do basic things like brush my teeth or eat. Having pharmaceuticals helped me feel stable and functional, but during a bad anxiety episode, or even when I felt one coming, I needed something that could help me quickly and not make me pass out for 16 hours (looking at you, Klonopin). Medical marijuana has made such a huge difference for me, and while I can only speak for myself, I am comforted knowing that I have a medication I can turn to when my anxiety gets bad. It’s also exciting that I have a medicine that has pushed me beyond functional and stable, and just makes me feel truly relieved and happy. Sorry for all the personal junk, I thought it could be helpful and I couldn’t miss an opportunity to talk about myself. 

How Marijuana Can Help

There are a number of ways that marijuana can be taken for anxiety treatment and it’s important to be careful and mindful when picking products to avoid exacerbating any symptoms of anxiety (more on that later). Cannabis strains high in the terpenes limonene and linalool show great potential. Limonene may aid as a mood enhancer and linalool can have a very calming effect: they both have potential anti-anxiety properties. Both sativa and indica strains can be helpful for anxiety, but for some, indicas may be a better option because they tend to have a relaxing effect. Similarly, patients should be open to products that are high in CBD, as it has little to no psychoactive effects and has the potential to ease symptoms of anxiety. In addition, this cannabinoid can even counter the effects of THC that could potentially worsen anxiety. There are many different forms of marijuana consumption, some that are targeted for quick relief and some that are intended to have a longer-lasting effect. Some products may be best for use when needed, others are routinely taken. There are a lot of options for anxiety patients seeking treatment.

How Can Marijuana Hurt

Look I’m going to say this point-blank: marijuana can potentially make anxiety feel worse, IF patients aren’t careful and considerate when picking products. I’m sure there are some of you reading this (if anyone is reading this, I know this is a longer post so thanks for bearing with me), that have felt more anxious after consuming marijuana. Some things to consider when treating anxiety with marijuana are to avoid strains that are high in the terpene pinene; although it can be a good energy booster, it can also increase your heart rate and create feelings of racing thoughts and restlessness. For some, taking sativas may not be an option at all, as although they may not necessarily cause anxiety, that extra energy boost may just not sit well; it all depends on the patient. Dosing can also play a huge role in the effects a strain can have on you, so it’s important to also start low and slow with a product, and be careful to follow any instructions that a medical professional or technician gives you with your product.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying marijuana can cure anxiety, plus I’m not a medical professional so if I did say that you should ignore me. I am just a small (I am very small), anxious, lady being who has both seen and experienced how helpful marijuana can be for anxiety. The addition of this condition to PA’s program is a truly wonderful thing that can now reach so many thousands of people. Sure, anxiety can range drastically person to person, but if it makes a difference for those who are truly struggling, that’s what matters the most. Anxiety disorders run so much deeper than they may seem, and like all of you dear patients that have found relief, I hope more people can find that as well. 

About the Author

I am Katie and I am a technician at Keystone and I am very short and very concerned about the bee population. I love marijuana and anime and when I am not being productive and writing, my favorite thing in the world to do is enjoy some marijuana while watching anime and eating dessert in my room. I also love reading, writing, non-anime cartoons, crafting, occasionally leaving my apartment, aaaaaaand other things but if I kept listing them you would get bored. All feedback is appreciated but compliments are ESPECIALLY appreciated. Okay, that’s it.  

Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed for accuracy by the FDA. As always, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers when considering trying a new treatment. Do not start or stop taking any medications without speaking to your doctor first.

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