Anxiety is a complex psychological condition. It can be caused by any number of factors, making it quite difficult to manage. What’s more, it can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to carry out basic day-to-day tasks, including work and social activities.
Medication, therapy, or a combination of the two is often used to try and alleviate symptoms. The type of medication prescribed is usually dependent on the frequency and severity of these symptoms. For those who have tried to help manage their anxiety for many years without relief, medical cannabis may be an option.
What is anxiety?
It’s no secret that anxiety rates are rapidly increasing around the world. A report released in 2020 by the British Journal of Psychiatry revealed that there has been “a substantial increase in general practitioner consulting for generalised anxiety and depression recently, concentrated within younger people and in particular women.”
There is no single factor that accounts for this substantial increase. Rather, researchers suggest that a combination of external worldwide events (global financial crashes, climate change, Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic) and increased reliance on social media have created an environment in which people feel hopeless and as though they don’t have any power to change their surroundings.
It’s not unusual to feel stressed about a particular event, like an upcoming exam or presentation at work. However, stress is not the same as anxiety. Anxiety can cause both psychological and physical symptoms which often varies from person to person, these may include dizziness, headaches, shaking, palpitations / chest pain, feeling restless or having trouble concentrating and sleeping.
It’s difficult to determine the root cause of any one person’s anxiety. However, researchers believe that most cases are probably a result of genetic factors, environmental factors, and brain chemistry.
Management and therapies
Management of anxiety has come a long way in the past few years, no doubt due to the increased number of people diagnosed with the disorder.
Like many psychological conditions, there is no one test that can “prove” you have anxiety. Rather, a diagnosis will usually be made based on a combination of physical and mental examinations. These may be conducted by a general practitioner or a psychologist.
Less severe cases of anxiety may be treated with simple lifestyle changes. These include eating a healthy diet, getting an appropriate amount of exercise, reducing time spent on social media, and ensuring you get a good night’s sleep.
If these strategies are not effective, a doctor may recommend seeing a psychologist or starting medication. A psychologist can provide you with strategies to help recognise when anxiety is affecting your ability to function and ways to combat the symptoms. This is known as cognitive behaviour therapy. Medication works in a variety of ways, depending on the specific type of prescription drug you take.
Medical cannabis and anxiety
Humans have used cannabis for thousands of years to help manage a variety of conditions, amongst which is anxiety. In the United Kingdom, medical cannabis was legalised in 2018. Since then, more and more people have been referred to a medical cannabis specialist as a way to help manage symptoms related to anxiety.
Medical cannabis contains a number of ingredients, including two cannabinoids that interact with the endocannabinoid system — delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The latter — CBD — is believed to act on 5-HT1A receptors, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) channels and endocannabinoid signalling, may help to reduce the severity of anxiety-related symptoms. Medical cannabis is also often prescribed to help manage those experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and insomnia, two other conditions often associated with anxiety.
Medical cannabis in the UK
In the United Kingdom, medical cannabis can only be prescribed by a registered medical cannabis specialist. It’s also unable to be offered as a “first-line treatment” meaning that a patient must have tried at least two other types of therapies or treatment before obtaining a prescription.
If you have been suffering from diagnosed anxiety for many years and do not find medication or therapy to provide effective relief from your symptoms, medical cannabis may be a treatment option.
Speak to a registered medical cannabis specialist today to discuss your health concerns and determine whether medical cannabis is right for you.
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.