Anxiety can be debilitating. It can interrupt daily life and make dealing with the smallest of things difficult. Those with anxiety can have sleeplessness, panic attacks, chest pains, rapid heartbeat, headaches, constant worry, and stress. They can also have depression. Other symptoms of anxiety can include racing thoughts that make you feel as if you have no control over anything, even your own mind.
What Causes Anxiety?
For many people, an occasional bout of anxiety is not unusual. It can stem from dealing with day to day issues that everyone has to contend with. When a crisis is over, anxiety goes away for many people. However, some people suffer from an anxiety disorder that is a daily issue. Almost any problem can feel insurmountable, and dealing with daily stress can cause both mental and physical issues.
While dealing with a crisis or a having a stressful lifestyle is often the cause of anxiety, for others, it can be a physical condition. A diagnosed anxiety disorder is often caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. These imbalances involve neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and aminobutyric acid. These chemicals affect a person’s sense of well-being, and the ability to relax. For those that have moderate to severe anxiety disorder, medication may be the only solution.
There are many anxiety issues that can be treated with medication. Among them are post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), panic disorder (PD), and many types of phobias.
Anxiety Medication Side Effects
There are many medications available to help relieve anxiety and its symptoms, but some people don’t like the way the drugs make them feel. There can be side effects that can make the treatment feel as bad as the condition. Also, anxiety medications do not cure anxiety disorder, but they can help by altering the level of brain chemicals involved in causing anxiety. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be beneficial and help control psychological symptoms. Beta-blocking medication is also used to help relieve the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as chest pains and rapid heartbeat.
While there are many kinds of anxiety medications available, some of the most commonly prescribed are benzodiazepines, including Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam). These medications can bring relief from anxiety within 30 minutes or so for many people. Other types of medication used to treat anxiety are serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).
These medications can be problematic. Addiction to some of these drugs can be an issue for some, compounding the anxiety disorder. Among the most commonly reported side effects of medications for anxiety are sleeplessness, headaches, fatigue, blurry vision, dry mouth, weight gain, nausea, sexual problems, upset stomach, and more. So it’s easy to understand why for some, anti-anxiety medications can be as troublesome as anxiety.
Using Cannabis To Treat Anxiety
Cannabis is being used to treat many physical conditions like pain, nausea from chemotherapy, inflammation, and a host of other issues. Studies are still being conducted to determine how cannabis helps treat these conditions, but many swear by its effectiveness. Some anxiety sufferers have turned to cannabis because it is said to be very helpful.
For those that have tried prescription medications for anxiety and didn’t like the effects, or didn’t find relief, there is cannabis. It should be noted that anytime you choose to self-medicate with cannabis (or anything else), you should speak with your doctor first. This is especially true if you are still taking prescription medications to treat your condition.
While many anxiety sufferers claim that cannabis helps relieve anxiety and other issues, some report that it can sometimes make the condition worse. The reason for this is because many people use the wrong cannabis strain. Before you try cannabis to treat your anxiety, you should learn about which cannabis strain might work for you, and which cannabis strain could make your symptoms worse.
What Is a Sativa Strain?
If you are considering trying cannabis to treat anxiety, you need to know about the differences in cannabis strains, and what each of them can do. There are three generally accepted types of cannabis classification: sativa, indica, and hybrids of the two.
The cannabinoids in cannabis are relevant when being used to treat a medical or emotional condition like anxiety. Sativa-dominant strains are known for stimulating mental effects that may help with focus and motivation. Many refer to this stimulation as a cerebral effect. It is often described as euphoric. Sativa-dominant strains are often best suited for use in the daytime, for social situations, and artistic creations. Many sativa lovers say they feel energized after using a sativa-dominant strain of cannabis. Famed sativa-dominant strains of cannabis are Jack Herer, Sour Diesel, and any of the Hazes like Super Silver Haze or Purple Haze.
So, can a sativa-dominant strain help with anxiety? Some cannabis users that deal with anxiety report that a sativa can heighten it, because it can be so energizing. Feeling electrified is not usually something an anxiety sufferer wants to feel.
What Is an Indica Strain?
Indica-dominant cannabis strains tend to smell earthy, while sativa-dominant strains often smell fruity and spicy. This depends on the terpenes in each cannabis strain. There are differences in the way a sativa-dominant and an indica-dominant strains smell, and their effects differ as well.
Indica-dominant strains offer more of a downtime, relaxing feeling. Indicas can give you a body high that can make you feel calm and relaxed. An indica can be helpful to get you sleep more easily, which can be of the utmost importance for someone that has trouble sleeping due to anxiety. Famed indica-dominant strains of cannabis include Purple Punch, Forbidden Fruit, and any of the Kushes like Bubba Kush or Platinum Kush.
Sativa vs. Indica For Anxiety
It would seem that an indica-dominant strain might be better for someone dealing with anxiety, but that could depend many things, including tolerance and time of day. Also, there are tons of sativa-leaning and indica-dominant hybrids available, and the only way to determine which cannabis strain is right for you is to do some experimentation. Go low and slow, and keep a journal!
It could be that a sativa during the day is helpful if you need to be energized, and an indica at night could slow you down and help you to rest. If you have friends or family that use cannabis to deal with their anxiety, ask them for insight on which strains could be right for you. Keep in mind that two people can use the same type of cannabis, and get entirely different effects.