How to Self-Treat Anxiety with Cannabis
If you suffer from anxiety you are not alone. Anxiety is the most prevalent mental illness in the U.S., and it affects 40 million adults age 18 and up – which is 18% of our population.
The situation gets even more complex when you look at all the types of anxiety people are dealing with:
- general anxiety
- social anxiety
- panic disorders
- phobia disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- and more
Depending on the type of anxiety, the symptoms can start to show up as irritability, feelings of dread, insomnia, fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, and frequent feelings of fear and hopelessness.
Many people with anxiety try to be tough and just muscle through it but when left untreated you are at a greater risk for developing chronic health conditions like heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and respiratory ailments.
But there is some good news... Your endocannabinoid system (ECS) is believed to naturally regulate anxiety and stress levels. In other words, doctors and scientists are now starting to understand that stress and anxiety disorders stem from an imbalance in the ECS.
And of course, cannabis happens to be the perfect substance for keeping the ECS in a state of balance. People have been using it to treat anxiety and stress long before the ECS was even discovered, and today people continue to approach cannabis as a healthy alternative compared to some of the damaging side effects that come with pharmaceuticals.
However, if you’re going to use cannabis to treat your anxiety there are a few factors you want to be aware of – otherwise it could create more anxiety instead of treating it.
So here are 4 tips for experimenting with using cannabis to help anxiety
#1) Strain Selection is Important
When it comes to cannabinoids, studies have shown that low doses of THC can have an anti-anxiety effect. Too much THC, on the other hand, can cause paranoia in people with anxiety as THC activates the amygdala which is the area of the brain responsible for fear.
However, science shows that CBD, which also has anti-anxiety properties, can counteract some of the mind-altering effects of THC. So that tells us that the ideal strains to choose for anxiety are ones that are high in CBD and have low amounts of THC.
And don’t forget about terpenes! The terpene Linalool is great for alleviating anxiety. You can find elevated levels of this terpene in strains like Grandaddy Purple, Purple Erkle, Mendo Purps, Grape Ape, and Lavender. And as a side note, Linalool is also found in lavender and grapes as well, which is reflected in some of the strain names.
Ultimately every strain is going to respond differently with your body, so the best thing to do is to consume some cannabis where you know what the THC / CBD content is, and what the primary terpenes are, and then pay close attention to how each strain makes you feel and to keep track of this in a journal. This way you can learn what strains will work best for you and your body type when it comes specifically to anxiety.
And know that if you do stumble on a strain that ends up having too much THC for you and causes more anxiety then helping, you can counteract the THC with an extra dose of a CBD-rich product. This will bring down some of the unwanted effects from experiencing too much THC in your system. So it can be a good idea to always have a little CBD in your storage containers.
#2) The Method Matters
Remember that less is more when it comes to using cannabis to treat anxiety. The optimal dosages here can be so low that a lot of people find they only need to consume every couple days to stay on top of it.
So in a general sense you might want to think twice about trying edibles and concentrates, as these products often have concentrated amounts of THC in them and it can be easy to take too much.
I recommend sticking to vaporizing or tinctures so you can regulate your dose easily.
#3) Understanding the Experience
It’s important to understand the difference between consuming cannabis for recreational use versus to help treat your anxiety.
Some of the effects you’re looking for when consuming cannabis for anxiety is a slight perspective shift, just enough to pull your mind out of any anxious thought patterns. Even just a microdose of the right strain can lift a lot of weight off your shoulders and allow you to be more present in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future.
If you consume too much cannabis, however, you’ll experience higher levels of psychoactivity, which can have a lot of different cognitive effects and benefits but also some downsides such as an increase in anxiety or paranoia for a lot of people. The optimal dose differs for each person, so you have to start small and slowly work your way up until you find what works best for you.
#4) Watch Your Mind
For people that have anxiety their minds will constantly be looking for any little sign that something is not okay.
When used with consciousness cannabis can be a great tool for helping you to work with this tendency in a different way. It can help you gain new perspective that will allow you to deal with anxious thoughts, putting them to rest or considering their opposing sides.
The trick is to stop giving any negative thoughts too much energy. Instead of clinging onto them, let them go and bring yourself back to the present. If you would like some more specific guidance on how I navigate this be sure to check out the video above.
Know that with practice and guidance, you can use cannabis to deal with and overcome anxious thoughts.
The Bigger Picture
The thing I want to leave you with is that life is short, and the quality of it is important. Don’t settle for a life full of worry, fear, stress and anxiety – you deserve better than that.
Find whatever combination of healthy tools will work best for you and start using them today. Whether that’s cannabis, therapy, yoga, meditation, exercise, or something else. No one method is likely going to be the answer but a combination of a few will most likely help you make noticeable progress.
Also it’s important to listen to your body, as each person’s physiological state is different. If you at any time feel like you need additional support, make sure that you reach out to a doctor for personalized assistance. The tips here are just meant to give you some general guidance and ideas of what’s possible for anyone who is looking to find ways to try and help themselves by using cannabis for their anxiety.
You can also check out the online course from Dr. Jordan Tishler, M.D., for additional guidance from an experienced physician:
Now we’d love to hear from you. Have you ever tried using cannabis for anxiety? if so let us know your own experience and tips below, so that we can all learn from each other as a community.