Why does marijuana scare me?

Cannabis and anxiety

What causes undesirable effects such as anxiety when using cannabis?

The known desired and undesirable effects (e.g. fear) of cannabis are caused by cannabinoids. The THC (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) is particularly responsible for the intoxication. But it also has a number of medicinal effects. The second, very well-known cannabinoid is CBD (cannabidiol). CBD is more of a calming and antispasmodic effect.

The difficulty is in anticipating the effects on the patient.
Because: Cannabis does not work the same for everyone.

Pro: Cannabis as therapy - cannabidiol supports the processing of fear experiences

In our body there are receptor sites to which cannabinoids (THC and CBD) can bind. Everyone produces their own cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids. They work in a similar way to the substances in cannabis. However, the body only uses them in very small amounts.

The brains of patients who have experienced severe stress or trauma appear to be deficient in the body's own cannabinoids. This could explain why cannabis use can have relaxing and anxiolytic effects.

Some animal studies and human clinical studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD) can be an alternative to drug therapy with other drugs such as antidepressants in the treatment of an anxiety disorder. Study participants should give a speech in front of an audience. Most people then suffer from anxiety. If they were given CBD or other anti-anxiety pills prior to this frightening situation, the symptoms of the anxiety disorder decreased.

Patients with generalized social anxiety disorders also benefited from taking CBD in a study. The patients felt much less anxiety after taking CBD than if they only received a dummy preparation (placebo).

Therapeutic use of CBD

CBD appears to have a therapeutic effect on regions of the brain that are responsible for processing emotions. In addition, when combined with psychotherapy or behavioral therapy, CBD can help erase memories of fearful experiences or experiences.

Eliminating feelings of fear is an important building block in treating anxiety disorders. "Forgetting" fear has to be learned first. Research showed that it worked much better with CBD.

These studies suggest that CBD may be useful as a therapy for anxiety disorders. However, further studies are necessary in order to be able to make more precise statements. In the treatment of mental illness, it could make sense in the context of medical cannabis therapy to choose pure CBD products (e.g. CBD oil) or cannabis varieties that have a low THC content and a high CBD content.

Read more about anxiety and CBD here.

Cons: Cannabis as a trigger for anxiety disorders

THC is mainly responsible for the intoxication effect. It docks with receptors in the brain. Many of them are in the amygdala. The amygdala is a structure that is involved in the emotional processing and control of feelings such as fear, stress, and paranoia.

It is not yet known exactly which mechanisms work in the brain. But when THC affects the amygdala, it changes the communication between nerve cells. In the positive case, this is a pleasant high. In the negative case, the feelings can also turn into fear. Physical symptoms such as heartbeat or dizziness may also occur. It mostly affects people who use cannabis for the first time. They are still inexperienced and often get too high a dose.

In cannabis therapy, a state of intoxication is not desirable at all. The dosage is chosen to be very low at the beginning and slowly increased. The goal is that the desired effects (e.g. pain reduction) are achieved as well as possible, but no or only a few side effects occur. Therefore, hallucinations and psychoses with cannabis as a drug are rather rare.

Psychoses, anxiety disorders and depression as a result of cannabis use therefore occur primarily in recreational use. In addition to first-time consumers, regular users can also be affected. Scientists suspect that these people are at increased risk for these diseases because of their personal disposition. It's not like cannabis causes these mental illnesses.

Avoid cannabis-related anxiety

If you are concerned about experiencing paranoia or fear from cannabis, we would like to reassure you. There are ways to prevent anxiety or to deal with situations that arise.

  • Choosing the strain of cannabis: Talk to your doctor about the strain of cannabis. Strains with low THC and / or higher CBD levels are cheap.
  • Low dose: Start with very low dosages. Vaporizing works faster than administering an oil, spray or capsule. If you are taking your cannabis medication orally, wait long enough not to overdose.
  • Comfortable environment: At the beginning of therapy, you should allow yourself to rest so that you can take the medication in a relaxed state. In and of itself, the low dosages should not cause severe reactions or undesirable symptoms, but panic attacks or paranoia can be avoided if one is in a comfortable environment.

If you experience any unpleasant effects, try to remain calm. The effect wears off after a few hours at the latest. Be sure to speak to your doctor if you are uncomfortable with your medication.

Note: In this article we report on prescription CBD or cannabidiol. This article makes no suggestion as to the possible purpose. Promises of use are left to the pharmacists.