How Medical Marijuana Can Treat Anxiety

Considered one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, approximately 40 million adults—or 18 percent of the U.S. population—have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). However, nearly one-third of those who suffer from the condition obtain medical treatment.

Common types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias

While the most common treatment is medication (e.g. anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medical marijuana has become a popular alternative in recent years. In fact, anxiety is a qualifying condition for medicinal cannabis in New Jersey.

Preliminary research claims cannabis has similar components to anxiety pharmaceuticals. For instance, benzodiazepines—a commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medication—balances a person’s anxiety levels by managing levels of GABA, which is a neurotransmitter. Cannabis, especially CBD, also manages the GABA levels in the brain.

In a study in Psychopharmacology, medical marijuana could potentially lower levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. When levels are low, there is a dulled reaction to stress.

However, consuming cannabis isn’t without risk, especially if you over medicate. Those with anxiety disorders may experience negative side effects consuming medical marijuana that is high in THC.

Common risks of THC include:

  • When marijuana is used as a cooping device for anxiety, this could create a psychological dependence.
  • Marijuana can exacerbate anxiety symptoms (e.g. increased heart rate and paranoia).
  • Just like prescribed medication, it is possible to develop a tolerance, which could lead to increased need.

That is why our New Jersey medical marijuana doctors recommend patients suffering from anxiety use CBD rather than THC. CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive high, but it influences the receptors responsible for moderating serotonin and balances the endocannabinoid system.

Before trying medical marijuana to treat anxiety, contact us at New Jersey Alternative Medicine to let us determine if it is right for you.