How Cannabis Helps with Anxiety

Man sitting on sofa in the dark

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness or mental health challenge in any given year and approximately 5% of Canadians will experience an anxiety disorder which can result in mild to severe impairment.

While it may be completely normal to experience anxiety in high-stress situations, people with anxiety disorders can feel anxious even under the most normal of circumstances. People with anxiety disorders may experience:

  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Muscle Tension
  • Cold Sweats
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling

Alternatives to Prescription Drugs

Over the years, there have been a wide variety of prescription drugs that have been made available to help those suffering with anxiety, and a 2015 report south of the border by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that more than 30% of overdoses included some presence of prescription anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines.

This has led many people to seek out alternative treatments for anxiety that have fewer side effects. Recently, a lot of research has been done about how medical cannabis might help with anxiety. One 2017 study that was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, reported that participants were able to reduce their traditional anti-anxiety medication by 71.8% when medical cannabis was added to their regime. Additionally, an article published in the Clinical Psychology Review, found that medical cannabis showed potential as a treatment for PTSD.

Using medical cannabis to treat anxiety has not been without its controversy. This is in part because a widely reported symptom of recreational cannabis is that it can actually cause anxiety. It is important to remember, however, that recreational cannabis tends to have more THC (a psychoactive compound) whereas medical cannabis is usually higher in the non-psychoactive CBD or a combination of THC and CBD.

A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that different cannabis strains provided different levels of effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders. Researchers found that while certain strains did, in fact, increase symptoms of anxiety, other strains were effective in relieving them.

Should I Try Medical Cannabis for My Anxiety?

If you are one of the thousands of Canadians that are suffering with an anxiety disorder, medical cannabis may provide you with some relief. If you have not already done so, it is important to first get a proper medical diagnosis from a physician or psychiatrist and then get a prescription for medical cannabis.

Those suffering from anxiety should never try to self-medicate with recreational cannabis. As mentioned, several strains of cannabis – particularly those with higher levels of THC – can make symptoms worse.

If you are interested in learning more about how medical cannabis can help with anxiety, or if you would like to explore whether this might be an appropriate treatment for you, contact CannaWay Clinic today.


Comprehensive Medical Cannabis Plan

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  1. CMHA (2013) Fast Facts about Mental Illness Retrieved from: https://cmha.ca/about-cmha/fast-facts-about-mental-illness

  2. NIH (2018) Benzodiazepines and Opioids Retrieved from: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids

  3. Piper B. et al (2017) Substitution of medical cannabis for pharmaceutical agents for pain, anxiety, and sleep Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881117699616

  4. Walsh Z. et al (2017) Medical cannabis and mental health: A guided systematic review Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735816300939

  5. Kamal B. et al (2018) Cannabis and the Anxiety of Fragmentation—A Systems Approach for Finding an Anxiolytic Cannabis Chemotype Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6204402/