Understanding the Benefits of Medical Cannabis for Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling that is part of everyone’s life, such as fear. You feel anxious when walking in a dark alley or when taking a test. Anxiety at certain levels is a healthy feeling and helps you in certain situations, making you more alert and careful. It usually stops after you are no longer in the situation you were anxious for. However, there are 40 million people in the United States who are affected by an anxiety disorder. Only 36.9 percent of people who suffer from anxiety receive treatment.

American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” Anxiety can be either a common normal or a disorder that needs medical attention. Anxiety stops being a normal feeling and becomes a problem when its feelings and sensations start affecting an individual’s daily life.

There are different types of anxiety and one of the most known is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Phobias and Panic Disorder. Each disorder has different symptoms and characteristics, but they are all classified as anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are the most common group of mental illness in the United States.

Anxiety comes with a number of symptoms that strikes at any time. Since there are several different anxiety disorders, there are distinct symptoms that characterize each of these types. However, there are common symptoms that can include:

  • Nausea
  • Back pain
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue
  • Increased or irregular heartbeat
  • Recurring and ongoing feelings of worry
  • Avoiding specific situations that may cause worry, affecting the person’s quality of life

So far the science has contributed with a wealth of scientific understanding on how cannabis can be beneficial for treating anxiety disorders. In the United States, there are already lots of states that have anxiety and PTSD in the list of qualifying conditions for using medical marijuana.

In 2013 was published a study in the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology about how cannabinoids ameliorate impairments induced by chronic stress to synaptic plasticity and short-term memory. The results showed that cannabinoids can prevent the effects of acute stress on learning and memory, suggesting that cannabinoid receptor activation could represent a novel approach to the treatment of cognitive deficits that accompany a variety of stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders.

Not only cannabinoids but the endocannabinoid system has also shown in another study that endocannabinoids are potentially a new alternative for therapeutic manipulations of the system in treating chronic stress-related conditions in humans. According to a research from the Department of Psychologic and Therapeutics, the understanding of the role of the endocannabinoid system to our in fundamental stress physiology and pathophysiological processes to better understand and treat a range of stress-related disorders including anxiety, depression, and pain.