- June 28, 2023
Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Perhaps a person has watched a scary movie or seen something upsetting on TV. Or, more ominously, perhaps someone has experienced or witnessed a crime. Anyone might get anxious in these situations, but the person with an anxiety disorder has persistent or recurrent anxiety that prevents them from full participation in life, sometimes without any outside triggers. Anxiety can range from relatively mild (occasional “butterflies,” jitteriness, accompanied by a sense of unease) to severe (frequent, disabling panic attacks). Severe anxiety disorders can lead the person to alter their lifestyle to accommodate the anxiety, for example not leaving home. (American Psychiatric Association, Expert Q&A: Anxiety Disorders, https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/expert-q-and-a#5269)
Marijuana may be of benefit to some patients with anxiety. Many patients are looking for alternative ways to treat anxiety aside from utilizing benzodiazepine derivatives such as Xanax or Ativan. These medications, while effective, also have side effects such as sedation.
A report indicates that some 22% of patients who use marijuana report benefits treating anxiety. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36147312/)
Also, while it may alleviate anxiety in some individuals, especially in higher doses may cause anxiety. (https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-020-02518-2)
Many patients of mine have reduced or stopped using prescription anti-anxiety medications in lieu of marijuana. However, marijuana, as all chemical substances known to mankind, may have potential for both short-term and long-term side effects. The longer-term side effects may take years to become present. Therefore, it is advisable to use the lowest dose possible of marijuana that helps your symptoms.