If there’s one thing that researchers can’t agree on, it’s the effect that cannabis has on your mental health. We have a lot to learn before we understand how cannabis interacts with the brain, and although many cannabis users find that it helps control their anxiety, other users stay away from cannabis-induced paranoia.
In truth, cannabis can affect your mental health both positively and negatively. Before we explain why this is, let’s take a look at what anxiety is, and what we know about the neuroscience of cannabis.
In short, anxiety is a mental health disorder in which the body’s flight-or-fight response is over-reactive. An anxiety disorder can both amplify the stress you currently experience or manufacture new stressors that disrupt your ability to function.
Anxiety presents itself through a whole family of disorders. General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder, PTSD, and OCD are all forms of dysfunctional anxiety, and while these disorders vary in degree and frequency, they make day-to-day life much harder to manage.
Several different neurochemicals influence the development of an anxiety disorder, including serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, GABA, and histamine. The relationship between these neurochemicals and cannabis is not fully understood, but a relationship does exist – resulting in cannabis’s effects on mental health.
The two active chemicals in cannabis, THC and CBD, affect the body in different ways. Both of them target brain receptors associated with the flight or fight response – the physical response associated with anxiety.
CBD, the “calming” chemical of cannabis, binds to CB1 receptors in the brain that lessen the flight or fight response. Many stress relief products today rely on CBD to ease the effects of anxiety. While CBD can’t cure anxiety, it can certainly calm the body down.
THC also targets CB1 receptors, but it has a different effect on the body. Known as the “psychoactive” component of cannabis, THC has a “bi-phasic” effect on anxiety. In low doses, THC reduces anxiety; in high doses, THC can increase feelings of paranoia and unease. This is because THC can overwhelm the amygdala, which is the part of the brain associated with fear and emotion. Although people can build their tolerance to THC, it should be consumed in moderation among people with anxiety.
Enjoy a variety of dabs and products for your convenience.
The short answer: potentially. In some states, therapists are licensed to prescribe cannabis products to help treat anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Some researchers even argue that cannabis can cure addiction.
Nonetheless, cannabis is not a standalone solution, and mental health treatment should involve the advice of a licensed therapist and/or psychiatrist. Cannabis can absolutely help people manage their day-to-day anxiety – but only with proper usage.