Today, it’s not uncommon to hear of a friend, colleague, or even a parent using marijuana for anxiety.
Considering anxiety disorders are the number one mental health illness in America—more than 40 million adults suffer from them—many people are wondering if it could be right for them.
However, while using medical marijuana for anxiety has had promising results for some, there are some things you should know before you start using it.
This complete guide will walk you through how to get started.
*Keep in mind that you should speak to a medical professional before using pot for anxiety. The following information should not be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Why Is Marijuana Good for Anxiety?
The main ingredient in marijuana is a compound called THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol. This psychoactive component of a weed plant is what leads people who smoke or consume marijuana to feel “high.”
Weed affects each person differently. However, many of the common experiences people report while under the influence of marijuana seem promising for anxiety.
Even entities that aim to educate about the potential misuse of drugs admit that weed has a euphoric and relaxing effect.
Since anxiety causes people to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious, weed can be a powerful counter to your body’s chemistry or your mind’s common patterns.
How It Works
THC binds to receptors in the brain that cause stress and anxiety.
The effects of marijuana are temporary. It may take an hour or two to feel it if you consume it, and the effects can last anywhere from four to eight hours.
Using marijuana for anxiety is a form of self-medication. It’s not doctor-prescribed, and you’re doing it yourself. So it’s important to stay smart about how much you use and make sure you aren’t relying on it too much.
Types of Marijuana for Anxiety
Are you considering using marijuana for anxiety? Be sure to understand the different types of marijuana first.
(For example, some strains could help your anxiety, while others might actually make your anxiety worse.)
The two main types of marijuana are Sativa and Indica.
Sativa is thought of as a strain that ramps up your brain chemistry. In edibles, it’s sometimes mixed with supplements like ginseng to support creativity and focus.
Indica, on the other hand, is a chiller strain. It’s known to help mellow users out and allow them to relax.
(An easy way to remember which is which? When you smoke Indica, you’ll be “on da couch.”)
In between, you can find hybrid strains of marijuana, too. These mixtures of Indica and Sativa are meant to give you some of the benefits of both types of weed.
Do Your Research
As the science and art of growing marijuana continue to expand, it’s important to educate yourself in this area. Today’s weed is often stronger and purer than it once was, and different strands can have different effects on your body’s chemistry.
If you live in a state where medical or recreational marijuana is legal, visit a few stores. Speak to the workers behind the counter about the different strains.
It is their job to educate customers and help them understand what they are looking for out of their marijuana experience. Ask about strains and hybrid options (50-50 Indica/Sativa or otherwise) to find something that fits what you’re looking for.
In certain cases, marijuana can have negative effects on people with psychiatric disorders. So it might be worth speaking to a doctor before trying it if that’s your situation.
One important caveat on marijuana for anxiety: the only science that confirms the link says that smaller doses alleviate mental illness.
So whether you’re an experienced pro or a first-time weed consumer, you’ll want to start with small amounts. This is a good way to see if using marijuana for anxiety is a solution for you—and how much you need to do the trick.
For edibles, 5mg doses are a good place to start for most folks. Anything above that might be too much.
You could also consider taking a 1:1 CBD/THC edible, or even looking for a 10:1. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound with promising research on health advantages. You’ll be able to reap both the CBD and marijuana benefits at the same time.
As a first-time user, getting too high can be a difficult experience.
Edibles can sometimes give you more than you bargained for. Common side effects of being too high include feeling paranoid, anxious, or even nauseous. (This usually only happens if you really overdo it, though.)
So if you’re really anxious about using weed for anxiety, perhaps try smoking it or cutting your dose in half (or in quarters).
Mentally prepare yourself for how you’ll handle the situation if you don’t like it or it makes your anxiety worse. A good “out” is to simply go to bed. Weed makes it easier for many to fall asleep, and even a short nap may help reduce the sensations.
It’s also important to use marijuana in the right setting.
For example, if you have social anxiety that you’re trying to treat, it’ll be best if you use weed in a setting where you can test it out around other people. Or if your anxiety is more generalized, trying it by yourself at home first.
Avoid operating cars, going to work, or undertaking important tasks that involve others while under the influence of pot. Just because some people can do everything high and thrive doesn’t mean you’ll be able to at first.
The Best Marijuana for Anxiety
Using marijuana for anxiety is a common practice today that helps many, especially those who suffer from social anxiety disorders.
Just be sure you take small amounts at first, don’t become reliant on weed for social interaction, and do your research on strains. Having a bad high isn’t fun and you don’t want your anxiety to get worse as a result of poor planning!
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