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Medical Marijuana and Anxiety Disorders

What Is Anxiety Disorders?

There are many types of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder; social anxiety disorder; obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); acute stress disorder; and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Symptoms include irritability, feelings of dread, difficulty concentrating, nausea, diarrhea, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and edginess or restlessness. Here’s some information on the causes of this problem, medications used to treat anxiety disorders, and the benefits of medical cannabis for anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

There are several different types of anxiety disorders, and many external and environmental factors can cause them. For example, people suffering from an anxiety disorder may have recently experienced a traumatic event, such as some sort of abuse or the loss of a close friend or family member. Stress can also play a major role in causing a disorder, such as worrying about finances, school or a job or experiencing a natural disaster.

There are many medical factors as well, including a heart condition, asthma, infections and more. You may have emphysema or some other pulmonary issue that can result in anxiety due to a lack of oxygen. Some people suffer from disorders related to substance abuse. Using an illicit drug such as cocaine or heroin can lead to severe withdrawals that result in anxiety.

Genetics can also play a role. Research suggests that if someone has a family history of an anxiety disorder, he or she will be more likely to suffer from one as well. People who have problems with the neurotransmitters in their brain may also be at a higher risk for a disorder.

Medications Used to Treat Anxiety Disorders

Medications that have been used to treat these disorders include anti-anxiety medications such as Valium (Diazepam), Xanax (Alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam). Another group of medications called serotonin agonists have also been used, including Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Effexor (venlafaxine), and Wellbutrin (bupropion).

Unfortunately, these medications have significant and hazardous side effects that make them undesirable as a long-term solution for anxiety disorders. Here are a few examples:

  • Valium — Valium slows the nervous system and helps you to relax. However, overuse can lead to severe side effects — the higher the dose you take, the more intense the side effects will typically be. You might feel foggy or uncoordinated even when taking a small dose, but you could become addicted to the drug when taking larger doses. If you stop using Valium suddenly, you could go through serious withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, nausea, depression, panic attacks and even seizures.
  • Prozac – Although people taking antidepressants such as Prozac are typically not as likely to develop an addiction, there can be withdrawal symptoms if usage is suddenly discontinued. Symptoms include extreme depression, increased anxiety, flu-like symptoms, irritability and insomnia.
  • Wellbutrin — This is another type of antidepressant that can lead to a wide range of side effects, including sudden fluctuations in weight, dizziness, problems with vision, tremors, agitation and more.

Medical Marijuana and Anxiety Disorders

Medical Cannabis for Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18.1% of U.S. population). Anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and Specific Phobias. Symptoms include insomnia, restlessness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, shortness of breath, racing or pounding heartbeat, feelings of apprehension or dread, episodes of intense anxiety or fear with symptoms of chest pain, rapid breathing, racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, or chills—all of which can interfere with your ability to function in your everyday life.

Not only do anxiety disorders interfere with daily functioning, they can also become a financial burden. Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country's $148 billion total mental health bill, according to "The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders," a study commissioned by ADAA and published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol. 60, No. 7, July 1999.

Medical marijuana for anxiety is an affordable, natural alternative that lacks the side effects found in the medicines traditionally used to treat this problem. Medical cannabis has been an effective treatment for symptoms of anxiety disorders for countless patients just like you. Paradoxically, some patients report that medical marijuana heightens their sense of anxiety. However, each patient is different, and a qualified medical marijuana doctor can help determine if you would benefit from the use of medical marijuana.

The cannabis compound known as cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to offer substantial benefits for people suffering from a variety of anxiety disorders. Cannabis that is rich in CBD has been used in patients who were suffering from anxiety as well as pain, spasms and many other issues. You can’t get high from CBD, and it offers several therapeutic effects. Research animals given CBD have shown significantly lower levels of anxiety than those not given the compound.

Research into the benefits of medical cannabis for anxiety is still in it’s early stages, but indications show that marijuana can help people suffering from anxiety a great deal. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder and would like to find out if medical marijuana is the right treatment for you, book an appointment with a local, qualified physician through today. Let us help improve your quality of life!



This information is not provided by medical professionals and is intended only to complement, and not to replace or contradict, any health or medical advice or information provided by healthcare professionals.  If you have any questions, please contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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