If you’re hoping to use weed to treat your anxiety, you’re not alone. Nearly 40% of medical marijuana patients in California use cannabis to manage their anxiety, according to a 2011 poll.
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety disorders occur when a person consistently feels excess levels of distress, worry, or fear over an emotional trigger. It is the most common mental health disorder in the United States, effecting over 40 million adults nationwide. Since anxiety disorders affect so many of us, it’s unsurprising that there’s several possible causes. A significant risk factor are environmental factors like stress from a personal relationship, job, school, or financial situation. Other risk factors include genetics, medical factors, and brain chemistry.
How can weed help my anxiety?
The relaxing effects of a good high can be a part of managing the acute stress that can cause anxiety. Of course, anecdotal evidence has long pointed to this mental-health benefit of cannabis. “In general, people who use cannabis say it helps them relax and reduces anxiety,” says Dr. Zach Walsh, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia. Walsh and a team of Canadian psychologists examined over 60 studies and articles to conclude that medical marijuana can help battle depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even addictions to alcohol and painkillers.
Another piece of anecdotal evidence comes from Melissa Gumley, who uses marijuana to address anxiety and depression she’s dealt with her entire life. Today, she uses cannabis to feel what she calls “even,” so she doesn’t experience “radical ups and downs but a nice middle ground that’s consistent.”
She mentioned several tips to those looking to medicate with cannabis, revealing, “Like all meds you need to let your body adjust and learn to let it work with you…It’s trial and error. You must be patient and take your time finding what works best for you.”
Try vaping or smoking at the end of a stressful day to calm down and unwind. Some patients report vaping during the day to ward off oncoming panic attacks since the effects are immediate. If your anxiety keeps you awake at night, try eating an edible about an hour before bedtime to sleep soundly through the night. Some patients use pure CBD to help with their anxiety in the form of oils or pills. However, when you use pure CBD you miss out on all of the other helpful cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, including THC.
Are there any risks to self-medicating with cannabis?
Research involving cannabis and anxiety is relatively new, and there still is a lot that we do not know. Some people may feel anxious when smoking pot even as they gain experience because everyone reacts differently to it. For now, we recommend these folks simply stay away from weed. But for everyone else, publications like High Times and Leafly regularly recommend particular strains they claim will help with various types of anxiety—often those heavier on soothing CBD than on high-inducing THC.
Learn more here about getting your medical marijuana card!