There is a huge commotion around the ongoing pandemic in the world and rightly so. This is a complex situation, where the struggle to stay isolated is an attempt to fight back against the virus. While all this is happening, another medical concern silently sits in our houses – anxiety.
More than 40 million people suffer from anxiety in the United States. This is almost 19 percent of the total population and according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 31.1 percent of the people suffer from anxiety at some point in their lives.
However, it also has to be noted that in these crucial times, most of us will suffer from some form of anxiety. And through this post, we will try to figure out whether medical marijuana could prove effective in place of anti-anxiety medications.
What Does Research Say?
According to a study, one of the most common reasons reported for cannabis use is stress. Cannabis users have shown a reduction in negative emotions and stress. The study also says that regular cannabis use can help people feel less anxiety even when the effects of cannabis wears off.
The study was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology and it went on to say that people with regular and moderate cannabis use managed stressful situations with ease. Not only this but even after abstinence from marijuana subjects of the study were able to cope with high-stress situations. In contrast, non-cannabis users reported high levels of stress and anxiety during crucial situations. With the rise in hormone cortisol in non-cannabis users, it was also reported that when stressed these individuals can experience high levels of anxiety.
This study consisted of 42 people who did not use cannabis regularly and 40 individuals who used cannabis chronically for a few years. The subjects of the study had abstained from consuming marijuana 18 to 20 hours prior to the study. And based on the findings the author of the study concluded that cannabis effects on anxiety and stress exceed beyond the period of intoxication. However, the study also suggested that the response to stress under cannabis influence requires deeper analysis.
Medical Marijuana or Anti-Anxiety Medications? (Facts Explained)
We will try to explain the effects of medical marijuana over anti-anxiety medications by comparison and operational activity. If we compare medical marijuana and anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals, the reaction to each will vary. However, the operation or the working of each medicine is quite similar. Most experts have tried to understand the interaction of medical marijuana with our endocannabinoid system and this is what they conclude.
Anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines are prescribed by doctors to manage the levels of anxiety. These medications interact with our bodies and regulate the neurotransmitters (GABA) in our bodies. Basically, GABA neurotransmitters regulate anxiety and contribute to motor control. When a patient with anxiety consumes benzodiazepine, a chemical reaction is caused and leads to calmness in anxiety patients.
A similar process is noticed in patients who consume medical marijuana to treat anxiety. Medical marijuana or to be precise the phytocannabinoids of the cannabis plant interacts with the natural cannabinoids of the human body. As a result, cannabis impacts GABA levels and causes you to achieve the same results as from benzodiazepines.
The only difference between medical marijuana and benzodiazepines is the side effects and tolerance risks. Opioids like benzodiazepines cause the patient to quickly build a tolerance level. This leads to higher dose intake and sometimes an overdose can prove fatal. Whereas medical marijuana does have a tolerance level but no reports show that cannabis has lethal effects. In other words, no people have died with an overdose of cannabis so far.
Effects of Medical Marijuana on Anxiety Patients
As more and more studies regarding medical marijuana crop up. People wonder if cannabis could be the answer to anti-anxiety medication replacement. In fact, most Americans consume medical cannabis to treat anxiety and other mental health problems. There’s increasing evidence for the same and patients have benefitted from the medical cannabis treatment. And most evidence suggests that cannabis can effectively treat anxiety.
To prove the same we will quote another study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. It went on to say that marijuana use can decrease the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress for a certain period of time. This means that cannabis can have a short term-effect on patients suffering from anxiety. Not only this but marijuana’s effect whether positive or negative are mild and manageable. But the side effects of opioids prescribed for anxiety put you at risk of addiction. In fact, even the slightest overdose can prove fatal.
Although you have to keep in mind that medical marijuana should be consumed under medical supervision. For the same, you can get in touch with the local medical marijuana doctor in your city. Also, see whether anxiety is a qualifying condition in your city. For instance, medical marijuana is legal in San Diego and anxiety is a state-qualifying condition. So an anxiety patient can get in touch with a marijuana doctor in San Diego and follow a medically supervised treatment plan.
While all the studies and research mentioned above are promising. For an anxiety patient, neither medical marijuana nor anti-anxiety medications should be the first step of treatment. According to mainstream doctors in place of the aforementioned treatment methods, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy should be considered. As for the question of whether medical marijuana can replace anti-anxiety medications we still require effective research and evidence.