The Right Way to Use Cannabis for Anxiety

How a simple leaf can help you to clear your mind.

BreeAnn
BreeAnn
Jan 8 · 5 min read
A tray shows tea with cannabis leaves in it.
A tray shows tea with cannabis leaves in it.
Photo by Kimzy Nanney on Unsplash

It goes without saying that on January 6th, 2021, history was made in a most disturbing way. This rides on the coattails of what has been a very confusing and difficult year for most of us — but these are only some of the most recent triggers that you might be dealing with right now.

Some of us find ourselves anxious in response to specific events like political unrest or even a first date. Maybe you are coping with anxiety on a regular basis due to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), as a symptom of another condition like PTSD, or because of a matter in your personal life. The reality is that being a human being can be a fairly stressful affair, and sometimes you need a little help to deal with it all — and that’s okay.

Cannabis has a fairly mixed reputation when it comes to anxiety, which is why I decided to make a guide of considerations when using it for this purpose.

Can Cannabis Help With My Anxiety?

When it comes to any kind of substance use, it is important to remember that everything is subjective. What works for you might make matters worse for someone else, which is why it is important to be informed and to be smart about how you use it.

In some of the places that sell medicinal marijuana, anxiety is considered a viable reason to use cannabis. But, people forget that cannabis is not only marijuana. Cannabis includes both hemp and marijuana, and both variations are being recommended by doctors around the United States and beyond for various reasons. Research shows that cannabis can reduce anxiety, induce relaxation, and even help you sleep better.

By this standard, it seems likely that cannabis can be good for anxiety, but that also doesn’t mean that it is a guarantee.

Can Cannabis Make My Anxiety Worse?

It is a commonly shared sentiment that a potential side-effect of cannabis is paranoia. Most people who have experimented with cannabis have come up against this at some point in their lives, which is why it is so important to be aware of this when you use it for this purpose.

Adding paranoia to anxiety can lead to spiraling, which can worsen your mental state significantly. You can safely assume that inducing paranoia while you are already anxious is not going to help you to relax.

So, why would doctors recommend cannabis if this is a potential outcome?

Well, the reality is that it isn’t that simple. Yes, cannabis can make you paranoid, but that also isn’t a guarantee. A lot of it comes down to the individual. Even though so many of us watch the same shows and share general sentiments, we are actually all quite different on a biological level. Pair this with a high degree of variations in cannabis strains and you will see how many stars really have to align in order to yield the right results.

But it can and does work for a good amount of people — it’s just a matter of approaching it correctly.

How Do I Use Cannabis For Anxiety?

Given all the variables at play, you might be wondering how to approach this correctly. In truth, there is only one right way to treat chronic anxiety with cannabis — by talking with a medical professional.

Mental health is a very real and complicated issue. There are a lot of ways to combat anxiety. While cannabis is one of them, even if you do manage to use it to treat your symptoms effectively, for the time being, you’re likely not treating the underlying cause. While some substances and medications can alleviate symptoms, their success rate is much higher with therapy — and any time that you are experimentally using any kind of medication to treat mental health, you should be working with a doctor to get a realistic look at what is really happening in your mind and body.

So, what if you’re not treating chronic anxiety? What if you’re just looking to relax after a crappy day?

Well, cannabis can be pretty great for that.

Most adults have a preferred way to relax after a hard day. It might be a nice cocktail, a cup of tea, or even a hot bath. Cannabis can be that thing for some people. Sometimes a joint is exactly what you need after a stressful encounter or a bad day at work.

As a recreational cannabis user who just wants to take the edge off, your best bet for success is to find the right strain. Whether you like to smoke bud, eat edibles, or vape, you should always know what strain you are using.

If you’re unsure, sites like Leafly can help you to better understand the strain and its profile.

Leafly is filled with information from growers and users alike to demonstrate what kind of effects you can expect with each strain. They are even kind of enough to offer information on whether it helps with anxiety, encourages relaxation, or induces paranoia. For reference, here is their page on a strain called GG4, as well as Leafly’s personal recommendations for managing anxiety.

Treating Anxiety With CBD

Given marijuana’s intoxicating effects, some people would prefer to find relief without it — and that’s totally fine. Fortunately, you can lean on CBD from hemp sources to find relief without any of those other effects.

After hemp’s legalization in the United States, people have been a lot more interested in what it can offer. It’s primary personal use? CBD. All around the world, CBD products are being sold in everyday spaces like convenience stores. And right now, a lot of people are using CBD to treat anxiety.

If you want to see if cannabis can work for you but you don’t want to be stuck at home in a cloudy haze, CBD is a great option — and it is available in all the same mediums as marijuana-based products too.

Author note: The CBD currently sold in dispensaries might be derived from marijuana instead of hemp and can include higher levels of THC, so always ask about the source of the product — never assume.

Final Note

Making the decision to take your mental health into your own hands can be good and bad. We should all be accountable and push to benefit our mental health, but mental health issues are a little more complicated than that and deserve to be treated with adequate levels of respect.

A pure sativa can sometimes take an anxious mood from bad to worse, hybrids are great for relaxing at the end of the day — and can help you to calm down without making you too sleepy, and indicas can bring a crappy day to a calming close.

Start small, listen to your body, and take care of your mind.

A lot of us are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty in our lives. If you are waking up afraid for reasons that you can’t quite articulate, you are not alone in this. Everyone struggles with their mental health at some point—and there are a lot of reasons that you might be struggling right now. If you feel like you are constantly anxious, agitated, or just plain uncomfortable in your own mind, please consider talking to a professional. You can find one in your area here.

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BreeAnn

Written by

BreeAnn

Freelance Writer, Ghostwriter, and Host of Among the Dirt and Trees.

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

BreeAnn

Written by

BreeAnn

Freelance Writer, Ghostwriter, and Host of Among the Dirt and Trees.

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

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