Cannabis and Anxiety: Does Weed Help Or Hurt My Anxiety?

It depends on the strain you're smoking.

anxiety sucks iStock / MissTuni

Anxiety. We’ve all experienced it in one way or another. Bills, our jobs, homework assignments; we’ve all felt the pressure. This is part of life. However, there comes to a point where too much anxiety becomes an issue and becomes a disorder. Anxiety in the form of mental illness is when the following symptoms may be present in those who suffer from an anxiety disorder, for an extended period of time:

  • Irritability
  • Feelings of dread
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain and heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Panic attacks

According to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), anxiety disorders are the most common form of psychiatric disorders. One in four people will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Dealing with anxiety isn’t just worrying; it can be debilitating and cause serious distress and make functioning in life difficult. 

Researchers have found that both genetic and environmental factors play a role and contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. While these can vary, according to NIMH, some general risk factors include:

  • Temperamental traits of shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood
  • Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
  • A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives
  • Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias, or caffeine or other substances/medications, can produce or aggravate anxiety symptoms; a physical health examination is helpful in the evaluation of a possible anxiety disorder.

How Does Marijuana Affect Your Anxiety?

When it comes down to marijuana and anxiety, however, it’s an interesting combination. For some, marijuana has been known to cause anxiety and paranoia. We’re sure you’ve heard of someone who has had a bad experience with pot, or maybe you have yourself. On the flipside, however, cannabis has also been anecdotally said to ease symptoms of anxiety.

It really all comes down to the CBD and THC percentages in your pot. These cannabinoids produce different effects. THC is the main psychoactive component in marijuana and is what gets you high. CBD, on the other hand, does not have the psychoactive qualities. It’s been said that higher CBD strains are better for anxiety because it acts on serotonin receptors.

Unfortunately, there is not enough research at this time to say exactly how marijuana affects those who struggle with anxiety. In the end, it all depends on the individual since we all react differently. It’s best to start slow and see how you react, especially if you’re using cannabis to treat anxiety.

Recommended Strains For Anxiety

Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie is an indica dominant hybrid strain. Despite the high percentage of indica (70 indica/30 sativa), patients and consumers have said they can still feel the sativa effects (complete relaxation, while still being happy and awake and aware).

It is recommended for those who struggle with anxiety to smoke this strain. This way, it’s easier not to overdo it since the effects of smoking are immediate and it’s easier to control.

Cherry Pie is also helpful for those who suffer from extreme physical pain, including joint pain and chronic pain. Cherry Pie has also been said to help with nausea. In these scenarios, a higher dosage would be recommended.

Pennywise

Pennywise has an almost one-to-one ratio of THC to CBD. Its high CBD content mmakesthis a perfect strain for helping anxiety.

Pennywise can contain relatively high levels of the terpene aroma molecule, linalool. This is also found to be highly abundant in the lavender plant. In both clinical and rodent trials, inhaled lavender oil which contained high percentages of linalool successfully reduced anxiety and aggressive behavior.

Grandaddy Purple

This is an Indica hybrid. It provides potent psychoactive effects with cerebral euphoria and physical relaxation. Granddaddy Purple will start with a full relaxation of the body and will eventually turn into a buzzing and happy high.

If you suffer from anxiety or any other mental illness, please know you are not alone. There is help available. Make sure to talk to your doctor about your symptoms and ask about how medicinal marijuana might help you. In addition, therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help. Anti-anxiety medications can also be helpful. Whatever the case, treatment for mental illness is trial and error and extremely individualized. Keep track of what works for you (and what doesn’t). Bullet journals can help track your symptoms versus your treatment over time. 

Remember that cannabis affects everyone differently, and in no way should this be taken as medical advice. If you are currently taking anti-anxiety medication, we recommend you consult your doctor before you start supplementing your treatment with cannabis.

Cannabis and Anxiety: Does Weed Help Or Hurt My Anxiety? was last modified: by
Molly Burford
About Molly Burford
Molly Burford is a writer living in Denver, Colorado. She has been published in Allure, Teen Vogue, Thought Catalog, and The Financial Diet. Follow her on Twitter or visit her website at www.mollyburford.com.