Cannabis for Anxiety: What You Need to Know – Fine Fettle
Mental health awareness is higher than ever before. The onset of pandemic-driven lockdowns and isolation have emphasized the importance of work-life balance, parenting, health, and more.
Types of Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting more than 40 million adults age 18 and older every year.
Specific medical diagnoses include:
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
Symptoms of Anxiety
According to the CDC, symptoms of anxiety include:
- Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge
- Not being able to stop or control worrying
- Worrying too much about different things
- Trouble relaxing
- Being so restless that it’s hard to sit still
- Becoming easily annoyed or irritable
- Feeling afraid as if something awful might happen
- Sleep disruptions related to worries
Mental health professionals often recommend complementary medicine along with prescription medicine to treat anxiety. These alternatives are meant to supplement therapy and medicine, such as meditation, journaling, exercise, and acupuncture.
This is where cannabis enters the conversation.
How cannabis can help with anxiety
Experts have determined that cannabis interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system maintains homeostasis by helping the body respond to things like stress and anxiety.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis interacts with the ECS to create a range of effects on the body and mind, and is being studied for effects such as reducing pain or stimulating appetite. This makes cannabis a possible useful tool for those who suffer from anxiety and may need the added support.
Benefits of cannabis
Benefits of cannabis that are being studied include:
- Increased sense of calm
- Improved relaxation
- Better sleep
In fact, according to a survey of Fine Fettle’s Massachusetts customers, over 30% consume cannabis for anxiety. Research even suggests that cannabis helps with symptoms of anxiety at lower doses, but worsens at higher doses. On the other hand, higher doses of CBD appear to reduce the same symptoms of anxiety.
This is important as it can help guide your selection of cannabis and CBD products at the dispensary. For instance, you might stay away from strains with higher concentrations of THC. Or you might choose to take a much lower dose than what’s recommended.
Cannabis strains to help you relax
Finding the right product to help manage your anxiety will likely require some trial and error. Certain strains will produce different results for different people. And for some, edibles may work better than flower.
If you still don’t know what you’re looking for, here’s a starting point based on our best selling items:
At Fine Fettle, we make this a whole lot easier on you with our online menu. We’ve created custom filters to make finding the right product that much easier.
Use Activity filters like “Ease My Mind,” “Get Relief,” and “Get Some Sleep” when browsing our Massachusetts inventory to get an idea of what you’re looking for when you stop by in-store. You can also ask our budtenders at Rowley or Martha’s Vineyard for help finding your perfect match.
4 tips for safely using cannabis for anxiety
Looking into cannabis for anxiety for the first time? Or have you been experimenting already? Consider these tips to lower the risk of your anxiety symptoms becoming worse:
1. Reach for CBD instead of THC
New to cannabis? Try starting with a product that either contains only CBD or a much higher ratio of CBD to THC. Higher levels of THC may cause you to experience more severe anxiety symptoms. Another option is to take much lower doses of regular THC products.
2. Start low, go slow
When taking cannabis for anxiety, start with a low dose and give it time before using more. Consuming too much too quickly can have the opposite effect, causing you to become even more anxious.
3. Speak to your medical providers.
Cannabis can interact with or reduce the effectiveness of certain medications. These include prescription and over-the-counter medications, and even vitamins and supplements.
Let your healthcare provider know that you’re using cannabis for anxiety. You can also ask your pharmacist about possible interactions.
4. Tell your therapist.
Seeing a licensed therapist for your mental health? Let them know that you’re supplementing treatment with cannabis. This can help you get a second set of eyes on how well it’s working for your anxiety. And your therapist may offer additional guidance.
Cannabis is not always a replacement for medication
The power of cannabis is undeniable, but so is medicine. While common medications prescribed for mental health illness can come with significant side effects, they also may help control many of the troubling symptoms in ways that cannabis cannot.
At Fine Fettle, our dispensary staff offer some general guidance for your needs. A medical professional with knowledge of your unique situation may offer more concrete advice regarding cannabis for anxiety.
For this reason, avoid self-medication through cannabis without speaking to a medical professional.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more local mental health resources, see Mass.gov’s page for Finding Mental Health Support in Massachusetts or CT.gov’s page for Programs & Services from the Department of Mental Health.