Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder where an individual has unwanted and recurring thoughts, obsessions, sensations, or ideas which urges and propels them to do something repetitively and compulsively. These types of behaviors, which include continuously checking on certain things, cleaning, or even hand-washing, can substantially interfere with daily activities and social interactions.
While there are those who experience repeated behaviors or thoughts that don’t disrupt their daily life, others suffer from persistent and unrelenting thoughts, resulting in unwanted behaviors and rigid routines. And when they don’t perform these tasks, it results in severe anxiety and distress.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
- Approximately 2.2 million adults, or about 1 percent of the United States population, have been diagnosed with OCD
- OCD often arise in young adults around 19 years of age, with about 25 percent of OCD-related incidents happening around the age of 14.
- Men and women equally get OCD.
To offer a brief relief from the anxiety OCD causes, doctors generally treat this disorder with a combination of medications, such as anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants, and psychotherapy. Although these medications are effective, they are often associated with negative side effects. For instance, antidepressants can cause headaches, nausea, agitation, drowsiness, and insomnia. Anti-anxiety drugs, which slow down brain activity, can cause drowsiness, impaired thinking, confusion, memory loss, blurred vision, and depression.
Due to the long list of common negative side effects of these medications, medical marijuana has become an alternative treatment option. Cannabis offers similar benefits, without any of the negative side effects associated with medications.
How Effective is Marijuana as a Medicine for OCD?
Be advised, OCD takes on different variations in those affected. So depending on each individual’s unique quirks, they might find cannabis beneficial or they might not. There are many who have discovered much-needed moments of relief, while others who do not feel like they’re in complete control. If you’re new to cannabis, it is wise to begin with a low dose at first.
But as a medical marijuana patient, it is important to determine whether or not a CBD dominant or a THC dominant strain responds best.
THC is the primary psychoactive in cannabis which provides the “high” that has made the plant both popular and controversial. Many experiencing intense anxiety claim that THC significantly helps relieve their symptoms, making them feel calm.
But if THC is not effective, a CBD-dominant strain. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that doesn’t produce a high similar to THC. Instead, it is a mild sedative with substantially potent anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects. Several studies have indicated the use of CBD as a viable treatment option for OCD.
Granted, not as much research has been conducted on marijuana and OCD specifically. However, there is ample research related to the herb and how it treats anxiety, showing that cannabis has been an effective medication for anxiety sufferers.
For instance, some studies found that experiences related to anxiety, stress, or a traumatic event cause levels of endocannabinoids--which act like our body’s own THC-- decrease within the body. So when a person consumes cannabis in an anxious or stressed state, they’re essentially replacing the depleted supply of endocannabinoids with a plant-based version, resulting in near-immediate relief of anxiety symptoms.
The role of endocannabinoids is to regulate the fear response in the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. When these endocannabinoids are diminished, anticipate anxiety, worry, and fear.
Additionally, there is more to strains than THC and CBD. Patients must also determine whether indica or sativa strains work best to subside symptoms stemming from OCD. For those starting out with medical marijuana as treatment for OCD, perhaps an indica strain might be more suitable since a sativa strain sometimes causes paranoia and are more anxiety-provoking.
True indica makes a person feel relaxed while experiencing a general slowdown in their body. Alas, sativa is typically fine for very mild cases of anxiety, while people with severe anxiety issues prefer indica.
It is imperative to speak with a healthcare provider to obtain professional advice on using marijuana for OCD. Only they can determine the proper cannabis usage for your condition. Furthermore, pay particularly close attention to how each strain affects your condition. Begin with a low dosage and work your way up from there.
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