Updated on December 10, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
When a patient has agoraphobia, it’s essential that they seek treatment. Most healthcare professionals will recommend intensive therapy, as well as medications to reduce the patient’s fear and stress. However, medical marijuana has proven to be an effective treatment for some patients struggling with conditions characterized by severe anxiety.
Agoraphobia is not a common anxiety disorder. In fact, less than one percent of the U.S. population suffers from this condition. But those who do struggle with agoraphobia know how it impacts every aspect of their life. This disorder is characterized by extreme anxiety in places or situations outside of the patient’s control. Many agoraphobics are unable to go to certain locations because they fear having a panic attack, and other severe cases keep patients house-bound.
If you’ve decided to try cannabis medication for your agoraphobia, there are many options out there. The cannabis industry is booming, and growers and producers are providing an abundance of medical marijuana products. What makes this medication so unique is that patients can choose a preferred ingestion method. There are topical and edible medications, although many people suffering from anxiety decide to smoke or vaporize — but which is best?
Depending on the individual, agoraphobia can present itself with different symptoms. But what’s the same is crippling fear or anxiety about stepping outside their comfort zones. Commonly prescribed anxiety medications can create a whole slew of adverse side effects, which is why many patients prefer cannabis medications.
Marijuana has cannabinoids similar to chemicals naturally produced by our body. These interact with our endocannabinoid system to provide many different healthful benefits. Patients with anxiety disorders find relief due to:
Whether it’s using a joint or a water pipe, smoking cannabis remains one of the most popular ingestion methods. Patients with agoraphobia often need fast relief before the onset of a panic attack, and smoking allows them to feel the effects of cannabis almost instantaneously.
Unfortunately, there is a link between cannabis and increased anxiety or paranoia, which seems to be exacerbated by smoking. When a user smokes marijuana, it’s harder to limit the dosage, and the effects are sometimes felt more intensely. For this reason, smoking may not be the best method of medicating for patients with agoraphobia.
In addition, smoking can cause irritation to a user’s throat and lungs, making it especially dangerous for patients with lung conditions or breathing difficulties.
Although vaporizing medical marijuana produces similar effects to smoking, it’s much safer. When a user smokes cannabis, they light the plant on fire. This combustion produces smoke that can be inhaled but also releases particles that can be dangerous to the lungs and throat.
Vaporization involves a device that brings either cannabis flower or extract up to its combustion point without actually igniting it, releasing a vapor that the patient inhales. With vaping, the patient can receive the same quick-acting benefits as smoking without its drawbacks.
The downside to vaporizers is that they can be expensive. However, this is usually a one-time purchase, and then patients can continue to use the same vape to medicate.
All medical marijuana products should be taken under the supervision of a physician. It’s important that patients with anxiety disorders like agoraphobia work closely with their doctor to create an effective treatment plan. If you would like more information about cannabis medications, make an appointment with a marijuana doctor near you who can answer your questions and determine if you qualify for your state’s medical marijuana program.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat agoraphobia, check out our resources: