Medical Marijuana for Anxiety Disorder

What is anxiety? How is anxiety treated?

Anxiety disorders are a common group of mental health problems that occurs in up to 25% of the population.  It can lead to difficulty in carrying out daily tasks, impact people in social situations, and even cause problems with work and employment.  If untreated, it can lead to depression – and both conditions are often found to affect the same people.

Current treatments usually involve helping people with behavioural therapies, anxiety managements, relaxation techniques and medications.  Some of the common medications have their own issues, such as sedation or even addiction in the case of a group of medications called benzodiazepines.

Does cannabis help with anxiety?

It is still early days in terms of research, to be able to conclude whether cannabis is helpful for all types of anxiety disorder.

However, cannabidiol or CBD, has shown promise, especially in social anxiety disorder where in a study, it was found to have similar benefits to standard medications but cause less sedation (the test involved public speaking, which is usually a source of anxiety for most of us!)

Which types of cannabis are better for anxiety?

In general, the studies seem to suggest that CBD may be more beneficial for anxiety that THC.

THC is the short name for tetrahydrocannabinol, a common cannabinoid (active ingredients) found in the cannabis plant, and especially in ‘street cannabis’.  The main difference between these two cannabinoids is that THC is considered psychoactive, whilst CBD is not.  Psychoactive means that it can cause various side effects especially at higher doses.  Symptoms from taking psychoactive substances can include hallucinations, intoxication, dizziness as well as causing increased anxiety.

Because of this, it is generally recommended that patients with anxiety avoid higher amounts of THC (whether prescribed or otherwise).

How long does cannabis oil take to work? How long do the effects last?

Medicinal cannabis is usually prescribed in an oil form, commonly called CBD oil or cannabis oil.  Cannabis oil can have benefits over inhaled (smoked or vaped) cannabis.

Although swallowed cannabis oil can take longer to have an effect after each dose compared with inhaling (average of 30-60 min with the oil), the overall effect tends to last longer.  This longer duration (usually over 6-10 hours) means that patients may have better overall control for symptoms over the day with the oils.  For comparison, effects from smoked or vaped forms only tend to last 2-3 hours on average.