One of the most common reasons people smoke weed is because they believe it helps them with their anxiety, or they think it helps them feel calm and think clearly. But do we know if that’s actually true? Is weed better or worse than alternatives like medication or meditation?
Can weed help with my anxiety?
- It depends on the situation and the person. There have only been a few scientific studies, and while there are more in the works, right now the general consensus is that cannabis consumption has been documented to provide some short term effects in reducing low-intensity or situational anxiety. However, at medium to high doses, cannabis can have the opposite effect, producing feelings of anxiety, panic, paranoia, or even psychosis.
How do the chemicals in weed affect anxiety?
- THC is the chemical present in cannabis that produces the “high” feeling of euphoria, as well as possible secondary medical effects. CBD is the other major chemical component in cannabis that doesn’t make people feel intoxicated, but may have medical benefits.
- Studies indicate that low doses of THC, when combined with similar doses of CBD, relieve feelings of agitation and anxiety – especially among individuals with a diagnosed social anxiety disorder. However, at higher doses, THC appears to cause, increase, or even amplify anxiety. However, CBD appears to have a strong anxiety-reducing effect at any reasonable dose.
- The impact of weed on your anxiety also depends very heavily on how regularly someone consumes THC and CBD. In chronic users (who consume weed at least once every other day), the anxiety-reducing effects were significantly smaller and more difficult to define. For infrequent users, who consume cannabis once a week or less, the impact on their anxiety was statistically larger but still dependent on their individual situations.
For most people, cannabis probably won’t make a long-term impact on relieving situational or social anxiety, or resolve the underlying causes of anxiety – especially when taking THC. Some individuals may see a short-term positive effect, but that’s outweighed by the possibility of developing dependence on the chemical. CBD has had some very promising results in reducing anxiety, but long-term studies have not yet been completed on its effectiveness.
The State of California doesn’t recognize anxiety as a qualifying condition for receiving a medical marijuana card, though, so you should definitely speak with your doctor before pursuing CBD or THC as a treatment for anxiety.