Marijuana and Anxiety: A Good or Bad Match?

Marijuana and Anxiety

If you have anxiety, you might have heard that cannabis may help with your symptoms. Many people do consider this substance to be helpful for the condition. In a 2017 study, more than 9,000 North Americans were asked about their opinions on cannabis for this health condition. About 81 percent of those people thought that weed might help. Almost half of the people said that relieving stress, depression relief, or anxiety were some of the potential benefits. However, other people believe that cannabis may make anxiety worse.


Before learning about the pros and cons of anxiety and cannabis, it is important to understand the components of the marijuana plant. The main components are CBD and THC. THC is a psychoactive component that can make you feel high when you use marijuana. On the other hand, CBD is utilized for potential therapeutic effects.

How It May Help

Many people use cannabis for anxiety, but this does not necessarily mean that it is helpful for the condition. Some people believe that cannabis may promote better sleep, improved calmness, and increased relaxation. Patients may use cannabis for many types of anxiety. These include:

  • Social Anxiety 
  • Sleep Issues Caused by Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Trauma Responses Related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Agoraphobia
  • Other Phobias 

According to a 2015 study, CBD is a potentially helpful anxiety treatment, especially for social problems. The study found that THC may also be beneficial, as long as it is a low dose. This is not a cure for anxiety, however. Instead, it simply helps reduce the symptoms. For example, instead of having multiple panic attacks a day, patients may only have one each day. Or the herb may reduce stress enough to help socially anxious people leave the house to run errands.

Drawbacks of Cannabis

Drawbacks of Cannabis

In some cases, cannabis may help improve the symptoms of anxiety. However, some patients do not notice any effects at all. In addition, some people might even notice that their symptoms get worse.

THC seems to play a role in the differing effects. When you use cannabis with high levels of THC, you may have increased symptoms of anxiety, such as racing thoughts or an increased heart rate. 

However, some research has shown that cannabis may not offer any long-term effects, like other types of treatments can. You may be able to get temporary relief, but not for the long term. Because of this, you will likely want to talk to your health care provider about making other changes as well, such as mental health counselling.

It might seem like cannabis is the best way for you to avoid using prescription mediations that can have some negative side effects. However, you will want to think about the potential drawbacks of cannabis, as well. These are rare, especially if you use CBD, but they can include:

  • Racing Thoughts
  • Hallucinations or Psychoactive Symptoms
  • Paranoia 
  • Increased Sweating
  • Higher Heart Rate
  • Difficulties Concentrating
  • Short-Term Memory Loss
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Problems Sleeping
  • Brain Fog
  • Mood Changes

Using Cannabis Safely

Despite the potential drawbacks, there may be some benefits to using cannabis. You might still find that you are curious about using the herb to help with your anxiety. If so, there are several things that you can do so you can reduce the risk of having any negative effects.

For example, you may want to start out by using CBD instead of THC. This is especially true if you have never used cannabis before. You should choose a product that is either entirely CBD or has much more CBD than THC in it. According to research, a higher level of THC is usually what worsens the symptoms of anxiety.

When you are first starting out, you will want to go with a lower dose. Have patience and avoid taking more right away if the first dose did not seem to do anything for you. You can always take more later on if you need to.

You could consider starting with a CBD edible or an oil. You could try starting out with about 10 milligrams and going from there. You might need to either increase or decrease the amount a bit until you find the right dose. If you smoke or vape your herb, you could try using a bud that is rich in CBD. For THC, you would want to go with a smaller dose.

You also will want to make sure that you purchase your cannabis from a reputable dispensary. That way, you will ensure that you get the right type of product. It should be tested by a third party so you can ensure that it is safe.

In some cases, cannabis can interact with prescription medications. Even supplements and vitamins may interact with cannabis. You should always let your doctor know before you start using cannabis and tell them everything else you will be taking with it. You may be able to talk to a pharmacist about what you are taking, as well.

If you have a therapist, you should also let them know about your marijuana use. That way, they can help determine if your symptoms seem to be getting any better.

Using Cannabis Safely

Closing Thoughts 

Cannabis, especially the strains that are higher in CBD than THC, may potentially reduce the symptoms of your anxiety. However, whether cannabis turns out to be a good or a bad match for you will depend on your own body.

If you do want to try cannabis, follow the tips mentioned in this article so you have the best chance at managing your symptoms. There is no way for you to know what the effects will be for you until you try it. You should use it conservatively and use the smallest dose you can get away with. While it may take a bit of experimentation, you will likely find the right way to manage your symptoms, whether that is cannabis or another treatment. 

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