Medicinal Cannabis and Mental Health

We have consulted with hundreds of patients with a wide range of mental health conditions and, using CBD oil, we have seen excellent results.

A significant number of our patients have anxiety. This can be generalised anxiety whereby the person feels on edge the entire time of the day which negatively impacts on their functioning and quality of life. It can also be in the form of panic attacks whereby the person feels episodes of extreme anxiety and worry usually in specific situations, such as when going out in public.

CBD oil has a calming effect and helps ease tension and improve concentration. Patients with ADHD have found that it improves their functioning and they can maintain greater focus. We have also treated patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to various events in their life. Again, CBD oil appears to have a calming and anti-anxiety effect.

Mental health conditions we can treat are diverse and the list includes the most common conditions. If your condition is not listed we are still able to consult with you and consider using medicinal cannabis products.

  • Anxiety – generalised, panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety

  • Depression

  • PTSD

  • ADHD (adults and children)

  • Dementia

  • Autism

  • Eating disorders

  • Addictions

How Can the Cannabis Clinic Help Me?

Our usual treatment plans for mental health conditions involves the use of primarily CBD based products with little or no THC, especially in the case of children where any THC would be inappropriate. Some disorders do require the use of small amounts of THC at specific times in the day to enhance the effect (such as at night time when sleeping is an issue). Your treating doctor will help you to choose the right treatment for your specific condition.

Can Cannabis Help Anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as the body’s natural response to stress, fear or worry about what’s to come. Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Rapid breathing

  • Insomnia

  • Obsession about certain ideas

  • Performing certain behaviours over and over again

  • Feelings of excessive worry

  • Panic or dread

Using Medicinal Cannabis For Anxiety

Cannabis as a treatment for anxiety is nearly as common as pain, which is the most common reason people use medical cannabis. Users who take cannabis for anxiety report that it helps them relax and forget about anxious thoughts.

The reason cannabis may affect anxiety levels is because of how cannabis interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is a system of endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes that modulate functions such as hunger, stress, pain and mood.

medicinal cannabis mental health nz

What Does The Research Show?

When it comes to clinical research on cannabis and anxiety, the results are mixed.

  • Studies on patients with chronic pain show that they may experience greater short term relief from anxiety when using cannabis compared to placebo.

  • Meta reviews of the literature on cannabis and anxiety have concluded that there is some evidence cannabis may help.

These results are promising, but more research is needed.

Overall the majority of studies show that small doses of cannabis help to ease anxiety, while higher doses of cannabis containing THC – cannabis’s psychoactive cannabinoid – can increase anxiety. This dose-dependent effect is known as a ‘biphasic effect’, meaning cannabis produces opposite effects based on dosage.

In many cases, one’s environment can dictate their response (either relaxation or increased anxiety) after using cannabis. Cannabis, especially when compared to other medications, is safe. But the cannabinoid THC is a powerful psychoactive compound and can cause intense perceptual changes in high doses. If cannabis is taken when one feels uncomfortable, this could trigger and exacerbate symptoms of anxiety in some cases. Furthermore, there’s some evidence that cannabis worsens anxiety over the long term. More specifically, chronic cannabis use can cause cognitive deficits and increase symptoms of anxiety and depression later in life (especially when started in adolescence).

With all of this being said, the potential positive or negative effects of cannabis use for anxiety are contingent on the individual. Anxiety is a very generalised term with multiple causes and levels of severity and so it’s difficult to say whether cannabis does or doesn’t help with anxiety. Based on the current research it seems safe to say that for many people small doses can be therapeutic.

Conclusion

While the evidence for using medicinal cannabis for a variety of health conditions, including anxiety and PTSD, remains incomplete, we have had good results with patients using CBD oil and other medicinal cannabis products in the management of symptoms. If you feel your mental health concerns may be helped with medicinal cannabis, please contact us by filling our consultation form to get further details.