How Cannabis Affects Anxiety and Paranoia

By David Jenison

Anxiety is a common human emotion that manifests as unease, worry and nervous anticipation triggered by an imminent event or uncertain outcome. While anxiety is a normal emotional expression, neurobiological abnormalities can produce anxiety disorders that manifest as panic attacks, debilitating fear, traumatic flashbacks, insomnia, heart palpitations and muscle tension. Generalized anxiety disorders involve unrealistic and unwarranted worry, but variations of the disorder include social phobia, agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), among others.

An anxiety disorder is, unequivocally, not the result of personal weakness or character deficiencies. Though the exact causes are unknown, clinical studies suggest that severe anxiety can stem from abnormal neurotransmissions, brain circuitry and similar biochemical issues. Environmental factors like trauma and sustained stress often play a role as do hereditary predispositions passed down genetically. Medical professionals often treat anxiety with benzodiazepine-class sedatives (e.g., Xanax, Klonopin, Valium) that involve substantial levels of risk, but clinical studies suggest that cannabis-based cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural anxiolytic that can be safely administered for extended durations. Furthermore, CBD can reduce any anxiety or paranoia potentially triggered by high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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