Having an anxiety disorder can be stressful enough without having to navigate mental health care. Many folks with anxiety find they have to try all sorts of prescriptions from their doctors to find the right medication. Not to mention you can build up a tolerance to anti-anxiety medication, forcing you to add even more medicine to your daily dosage. Are you starting to think enough is enough?
Some patients with anxiety have turned to medical marijuana for symptom relief. Sometimes they supplement their anti-anxiety medication with it, and other patients use cannabis as a complete replacement. If you choose to continue taking your anxiety medication with cannabis, it’s important to learn how the two pharmaceuticals interact and how you can use both to create the perfect treatment plan.
Cannabis Medicine vs. Anti-Anxiety Drugs
When you compare medical cannabis with anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals, how does each medication help? While everyone’s reaction to a medication varies, they work more similarly than you think. In fact, they both work with the same chemicals in your brain.
Doctors commonly prescribe benzodiazepines for people with anxiety disorders. These medications manage the levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which balances your anxiety levels. Early studies show medical marijuana can also impact your GABA levels. So, you can get the same results from benzodiazepines and cannabis.
Medical cannabis and anti-anxiety medication have different side effects, tolerance and risks. Many patients quickly build a tolerance to their benzodiazepines, forcing them to take higher doses. In extreme cases, they can cause an overdose. Every year, thousands of people die from overdosing on benzodiazepine medication.
Meanwhile, zero people have died from a marijuana overdose? Some folks do build up a tolerance to marijuana, but taking too much of it doesn’t have lethal effects.
Won’t Medical Marijuana Make Me Feel More Anxious?
You may have heard some people who use medical marijuana experience increased anxiety as a side effect. While this is true, it’s only in response to certain kinds of medicinal cannabis.
Marijuana contains numerous compounds called cannabinoids that interact with receptors in your body to provide health benefits. Although it has so many components, we usually focus on the two most prevalent: THC and CBD. These two compounds are mainly responsible for cannabis’ impact on your health. Whether cannabis medicine will make you anxious or not can highly depend on the ratio of these cannabinoids in your strain.
While THC can cause paranoia and anxiety, CBD promotes a sense of calm. Folks who have an anxiety disorder should ask their dispensary for medicine with only CBD and no THC. As a bonus, CBD-only medication doesn’t make you feel high like medicine with THC.
Patients who take medical cannabis and find it makes them anxious shouldn’t fret. You can always work with your doctor and dispensary to try a different kind of medication that won’t make you paranoid. Medical marijuana is a versatile drug, and the side effects vary based on the strain and ingestion method you’re using.
Combining Medicinal Cannabis and Anti-Anxiety Medication
If the idea of switching over entirely to cannabis medicine intimidates you, you can always use medical cannabis as a supplement. Many patients use medical marijuana as a part of a combined treatment plan that involves pharmaceuticals and other treatments like therapy.
But, patients who do decide to use both kinds of medicine at the same time should make sure their doctor approves. Work with a doctor with experience in marijuana medicine to determine how to balance your dosages and monitor side effects.
Since anti-anxiety medication and cannabis have some overlapping side effects, taking both can exacerbate them. For instance, folks who take citalopram with medical marijuana might experience confusion, concentration problems and drowsiness. But if you and your doctor take care when adjusting your dosages and dosage time, you can minimize or eliminate these symptoms.
Replacing Your Anti-Anxiety Medication With Marijuana
On the other hand, if you want to try discontinuing your anxiety medication or don’t take any in the first place, you can opt for a cannabis-only regimen. Not only does trying medical marijuana on its own reduce the possibility of drug interactions, but you don’t have to worry about dependency on pharmaceuticals.
In fact, an early study shows promise for cannabis replacing anti-anxiety medicine for everyone if the data trends continue. Researchers looked at the cortisol levels and stress ratings of marijuana users and non-users. The group of marijuana users had lower numbers of both in stressful conditions, indicating a blunted stress response. This phenomenon could be used to lower the overactive stress response in people with anxiety disorders.
Other Factors to Consider
If you’re thinking about using medical marijuana, you should know its differences from standard medicine and consider the following factors:
- Your Financial Situation: Since health insurance doesn’t cover medical marijuana, you must pay the entire price. You must also pay to apply for a medical marijuana card.
- Your State Laws: Make sure your state lets patients with anxiety use medical marijuana. Every state has different medicinal cannabis policies.
- Accessibility in Your Area: Even if your state allows medical marijuana treatment for anxiety disorders, you might not have a dispensary or marijuana-friendly doctor in the area. Ensure you have easy access to your medicine before paying the fees for your evaluation and application.
- Your Other Health Conditions: Do you deal with any other health problems? If you’re seeing a marijuana-trained doctor for the first time, bring them up in case there are any interactions or side effects you should know about.
Learn More About Medical Cannabis and Anti-Anxiety Medication
You don’t have to figure out your medical marijuana treatment alone. The medical marijuana industry has plenty of knowledgeable experts who can happily assist with your decision-making process.