The scientific community has recently started examining the effect of cannabis on anxiety and the verdict are that short-term benefits do exist. Smoking cannabis can significantly reduce self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in the short term. However, repeated use doesn’t seem to lead to any long-term reduction of symptoms and in some individuals may increase depression over time.
But some find weed sends them spiraling into panic, paranoia, and anxious thoughts, a panic attack.
Because not all weed is created equal… And THC
There are hundreds of compounds (known as cannabinoids) produced by the cannabis plant, but when it comes to anxiety, there’s two you need to know about: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the compound responsible for getting you “high.”
CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychotropic and you will not get high at all off it.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cannabis — it’s not like CBD is better than THC or vice versa. They have different uses and go together nicely.
But understanding the differences between the two — and how you will react to it can help make your experience with cannabis more anxiety-relieving and less anxiety-inducing.
If your anxiety goes hand in hand with an overall “blah” feeling, THC can be just what you need to lift your spirits because people who have anxiety connected to depression [or] general dysphoria, THC can actually be really helpful because it is euphoria causing. It is however not a cure for depression or anxiety.
THC — especially in high doses — can cause a cascade of side effects, like elevated heart rate or racing thoughts. This can actually exacerbate certain kinds of anxiety. And that’s where CBD comes in.
Because CBD is non-psychotropic, you won’t get high, just relaxed and it may help to alleviate some more anticipatory anxiety, some more generalized social anxiety and may even help with panic disorders because it does influence and interacts with your serotonin system.
So a mix of THC and CBD may be the best approach to using cannabis to feel less anxious and more relaxed (and get a nice buzz in the process). Try a hybrid that has both THC and CBD but remember to go slow.
Want relief of cannabis but without getting high? Stick to CBD oil or gummies!
Struggle with anxiety and prone to panic attacks? Keep a paper bag and your coping strategies on hand.