Did you know that anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States, ages 18 and older. That’s 18 percent of the population every year. And that is just normally, without the trauma that a global pandemic brings.
If you’ve been experiencing increasing stress and anxiety due to COVID-19, you are not alone. This is a very difficult and challenging time; we know many people who are dealing with financial hardships, childcare challenges, relentless uncertainty and life-threatening health issues, among a whole host of other trying circumstances. We are all impacted – in some way- by this virus. Life as we knew it has changed – and we have to find a healthy way to address our anxiety and stress levels. Cannabis is a wonderful option, as it is plant medicine that helps millions of people throughout the world deal with some of their most pressing health issues.
Be Stress And Anxiety-Free
Prioritizing self-care is first and foremost, the best thing you can do for yourself and your family during this time when we are self-isolating. For some that means exercise, journaling, connecting with a friend via Zoom or FaceTime, going for a walk (safely, while social distancing), reading a book or having a glass of wine. Others find relaxation in low-dose cannabis products.
Cannabis can be a natural solution to many ailments including depression and chronic pain, but it can also be an immense help in reducing stress and anxiety. THC can be helpful in lifting one’s spirits – as it increases dopamine levels that can result in more enjoyment, motivation, memory and attentiveness.
Family Nurse Practitioner Jessica Taylor of Chronic Wellness, LLC says, when we inhale or ingest cannabis medicine, plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) are added to our bodies’ innate endocannabinoid systems (ECS) and interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors in our cells. These receptors are found in the brain/nervous system and peripheral organs/immune systems respectively. The ECS reduces over-activation of mental processes, which can bring our mood into a homeostatic or balanced, state. In the setting of both depression and anxiety, this can provide improved performance of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which helps us to feel happy and content.
For those with anxiety, cannabis may also help reduce feelings of nervousness, excessive worrying or feeling “on edge.”
CBD has powerful healing properties that may help with anxiety and chronic pain, among other health benefits, without the euphoric effect of THC. So in other words, CBD won’t get you high, but it may help you feel better.
Take A Personalized Approach
It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to consuming cannabis. Everyone’s body chemistry is different and flower strains will yield varying results accordingly. Leafly reports that lower doses of cannabis may offer greater therapeutic benefit and recommends taking 2.5 mg to start and slowly increasing the dose to gain more symptom relief. If you are consuming a high-THC strain, you’ll want to limit your dose, as it can amp up anxiety, whereas if you are taking CBD, higher doses can lower anxiety.
Just as doses vary, so does the delivery method you may choose. Some patients prefer taking a few puffs out of a pipe or bong. Some prefer to consume an edible, still others will choose vaping. It is up to you. Think about what works best for your lifestyle and the effects of each. For instance, with vaping or smoking the effects are immediate, but if you eat an edible, the impact can take up to an hour to be felt fully and the medicine lasts for a longer period of time.
If you are already on anti-anxiety pharmaceutical medication (such as SSRIs) please consult your doctor about starting to consume cannabis. Honesty is the best policy. If you have just started taking this type of medication, it may be useful to wait to see the affects you are experiencing, before starting to take cannabis medicine. NP Tayler says make one change at a time. Add the lowest dose of cannabis to start and increase only two to three days if symptoms are not alleviated by the starting dose. Once symptoms are controlled, patients may want to consider reducing prescription medications – but would need to be discussed with their prescriber.
Keep Your Medicine Safe—and out of the hands of children
While COVID-19 is keeping more people home – your children may find out that you use cannabis because of its smell, just by being in close proximity for longer hours at a time. Depending on the age of your children, this could be an opportunity to discuss cannabis consumption. To decrease your own stress and anxiety over this, think about how and where you store your medicine and when you consume. We share some tips that may help, here.
Cannabis strains for anxiety
At the Wellness Connection, we have a variety of cannabis strains that are known to help with anxiety. Here are a few to consider: