Can Cannabis be an Effective Treatment for Anxiety?
In some contexts, the term anxiety is viewed as taboo or a sign of weakness. Unfortunately, this attitude can play a large role in perpetuating a negative stigma which is undoubtedly one of the reasons why less than 40% of adult sufferers over the age of 18 seek out treatment. With nearly 40 million Americans impacted each year, it is fair to say that Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Please join us over the next month as we dig a little deeper into anxiety and how some of our patients are choosing to seek relief from their anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
While there are a vast array of anxiety classifications, there are five types of anxiety that are the most prevalent. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, they are as follows:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder, GAD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called “rituals,” however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
- Panic Disorder is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
- Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder), is an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation – such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others – or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.
As mentioned above, not all anxiety sufferers seek out treatment but there are treatment options available. Most common treatment plans will include some form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and possibly the incorporation of prescription pharmaceuticals. There are several classes of medication that a patient could be prescribed, and most common classes are:
- SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor)
- SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor)
***For a deeper look into the medications listed above, please visit this link to learn more about the possible side effects of taking each class. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment plan.***
Is Cannabis a Treatment Option?
When it comes to anxiety medication, the pros tend to not outweigh the cons and anxiety sufferers are turning to medical cannabis as a possible treatment option. While there is still more work to be done, the current body of research indicates that medical cannabis might be a viable treatment option for patients that have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. To learn more about applying for a medical cannabis license in your state, please visit the “Resources for Patients” on the Americans for Safe Access website.
Medical cannabis, an underutilized treatment option, is slowly making its way onto the scene as a legitimate treatment option for insomnia patients. In the past, there was anecdotal evidence speaking to this effect, but we now have mounting scientific evidence documenting the efficacy of medical cannabis as a possible form of treatment for insomnia.
In early July, the Releaf App team contributed to the body of research by co-publishing a peer-reviewed article with a talented team of researchers at the University of New Mexico. The study, which analyzed anonymous aggregated data from Releaf patients’ insomnia sessions, found that there was an average symptom severity reduction of -4.5 points on a 0-10 point scale when patients used cannabis to help them fall asleep. It also found that pipes and vaporizers were associated with greater symptom relief, and more positive side effects, than joints. Furthermore, sessions during which Cannabis indica flower was smoked or vaped resulted in fewer context-specific negative side effects than sessions with Cannabis sativa.
Join Our Anxiety Study!
If you are interested in anonymously contributing to our anxiety research, please download The Releaf App for free in the Google or iTunes Store today. Patients can join our research group by typing in the following group code in the app: “releaf4anxiety”.
Need a refresher on how Group Codes work? We have a write up for you. 🙂