Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that causes a fear of places outside a person’s control. This leads many patients with this condition to avoid going out into the world. No one knows what causes agoraphobia exactly, but it’s thought that if someone has suffered from a series of panic attacks they may attempt to avoid places or situations that cause them to occur.
Agoraphobia can severely impact a person’s life. Not only do they live in dread of having a panic attack, but they’re afraid of venturing anywhere out of their comfort zones. This limits the places they’ll go to just a handful of locations, and it can impact both their chosen occupation and social life. In severe cases, one may not feel comfortable leaving their home at all. Most agoraphobics are treated with a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.
However, many people suffering from anxiety disorders, like agoraphobia, are turning to a more natural solution. Medical cannabis is approved for use in some states to treat anxiety and has helped many people tackle symptoms associated with the condition.
We’ve all heard of the medical benefits of medical marijuana, but what makes it such an effective treatment? Not only can marijuana treat disorders that affect mood, like anxiety, but it also has been used for a plethora of different medical conditions, from cancer to Parkinson’s disease and more.
The active substances contained within marijuana are called cannabinoids. Amazingly, our body produces similar chemicals as part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It’s this system’s responsibility to bring balance to many different bodily functions, from the nervous system to immunity. The ECS contains a series of receptors found throughout the body, and our naturally produced cannabinoids bind to these.
But sometimes, the body can experience a cannabinoid deficiency. That’s why medical marijuana can be used to treat so many different conditions by utilizing ECS receptors with a multitude of different positive results.
Agoraphobia is characterized by the anxiety it causes to those with the disorder. Patients experience many different symptoms that make it difficult to function properly, including:
Medical marijuana works with endocannabinoid receptors in the brain to alter a person’s mood. This means that when it is ingested, either through smoking, vaporizing or eating cannabis medications, the plant naturally works to provide several effects that allow patients to experience relief from agoraphobia symptoms. Some of the results patients appreciate from medical cannabis treatments include:
Like most medications, different people react differently to the side effects of cannabis. While some patients find relief from serious symptoms associated with anxiety, medical marijuana has the opposite effect for others. Heightened anxiety, fear and paranoia are possible side effects associated with cannabis use. Researchers are still looking into why the plant affects users differently.
However, there are two distinct advantages medical marijuana has over other forms of anxiety-related medications:
If you believe medical marijuana would be an appropriate treatment option for your agoraphobia-related anxiety, be sure to use it under the supervision of a physician familiar with cannabis treatments. They can monitor your dosage and ensure you’re not experiencing any negative side effects.
To use cannabis medications for agoraphobia, you must join your state’s medical marijuana program. Make an appointment with a marijuana doctor near you to find out if you qualify.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat agoraphobia, check out our resources: