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Anxiety

Can Marijuana Cause Anxiety?

There is a debate in the medical marijuana community — does cannabis cause anxiety or treat it? Smoking pot has been known to produce episodes of paranoia. This can be mild, causing nothing more than a slight feeling of unease. However, it has also caused panic attacks that give the user an overwhelming sense of dread.

Marijuana is used by people everywhere to relax and de-stress. In states where medical marijuana is legal, it’s sometimes used as a treatment for psychological issues like depression, PTSD and even anxiety itself. It’s shown remarkable success at calming symptoms associated with stress disorders.

So why is there such a divide? How can some users fear marijuana will cause anxiety, while others are using it to treat that very symptom? The truth of it is — it really depends on the individual.

How Marijuana May Cause Anxiety

Because cannabis is a federally banned substance, it’s extremely difficult to perform research tests to determine why and how marijuana causes anxiety. This effect is subjective, depending on the user, and there’s no apparent reason as to what causes it — it creates different reactions in different people.

One of the active cannabinoids in marijuana is THC. This compound, along with the other compounds in cannabis, binds with neural receptors in our brain and body. This is what produces pot’s strong effects. When THC binds to neural receptors in the amygdala, it can affect fear, stress and other emotions. Overexciting these receptors can cause anxiety or paranoia.

There are a few risk factors that influence if an individual will experience anxiety when they use marijuana:

  • First-Time Users: Heightened paranoia more often occurs in first time users or those who seldom use marijuana.
  • History of Paranoia or Anxiety: If you have a history of stress-disorders, that could make you more susceptible to anxiety induced by marijuana.
  • Illegal Sourcing of Marijuana: If you buy pot on the street instead of at a state-certified dispensary, there’s no telling what it may be laced with. It could include a substance that causes feelings of anxiety. Legal cannabis is regulated and tested for purity.
  • Biological Factors: Although the relationship between a person’s biology and marijuana-induced anxiety is unknown, some factors may include genetic vulnerability and gender among other things.
  • Dosage: How much marijuana you intake could play a significant role on any anxiety you may experience.
  • Setting: Using marijuana in certain places may increase feelings of unease and cause a panic attack.

How to Prevent Marijuana-Induced Anxiety

It’s important to work with your doctor or a qualified budtender at a local dispensary when deciding on your medical marijuana treatments and dosage. Until then, here are some general things to keep in mind that may help reduce or eliminate the risk of marijuana-induced anxiety:

  • Pick a strain low in THC or a CBD dominant strain. CBD is non-psychoactive and can counteract THC’s psychoactive effects.
  • Start with a low dosage and always follow your doctor’s or budtender’s recommendation.
  • If you’re a new user, avoid edibles and tinctures, as it’s harder to control the dosage in these methods.
  • Pick a comfortable setting where you can feel relaxed and at ease.
  • Find the right strain. This is where conversing with your doctor and budtender is essential. They can help you find a strain with the right chemical makeup for your needs.

Meet with a Marijuana Doctor

Prescription medications all have a list of side effects that accompany them. Although the same is true for medical marijuana, the benefits it provides to countless individuals with severe medical conditions is astounding. If you’re afraid that cannabis treatments could induce feelings of anxiety, be mindful and speak to your doctor.

For more information about medical marijuana, make an appointment with a marijuana certified doctor or visit a dispensary near you.

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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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