Finally, diagnostic Anxiety qualifies for medical marijuana use. Why finally? Because it should have been one of the first and most obvious of cannabis’ medical uses. Anxiety is as common in our society as Depression, and significantly less successfully treated.
Unlike Depression, for which we have multiple psychotropic drugs that can frequently be used to alleviate symptoms with minimum side-effects. we have few such drugs that can be successfully and safely used for anxiety. Most of them either deaden the senses of the user or require them to rely on heavily addictive PRN (as needed, fast acting) medications.
Today’s world of cannabis offers specialized strains that will be specially useful for anxiety reduction. There will likely be strains with minimal THC thereby eliminating the “high” associated with marijuana use. As our medical community becomes trained as prescribers they will have at their disposal seriously effective treatments with minimum side-effects, as marijuana has few.
I am a big advocate for the legalization of cannabis, which is somewhat counter-intuitive and ironic for those who know me. I am a recovering addict whose drug of choice was pot and am dreading the extra work required to maintain my sobriety as pot becomes more readily accessible. I know, I know, many claim cannabis is non-addictive. I will leave the science of its addictive components to others more qualified. But as addicts we hardly need the object of our desire to be the problem.
My advocacy for at least the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes is in large part that for the FDA to dismiss this clearly potently helpful drug is a symptom of small-minded paranoia on a grand scale. Just as we are one of the few nations that has not formally researched and FDA approved other more naturally occurring plants such as St Johns Wart for medicinal purposes. To be clear, I am not a fan of clients self-medicating from their local herbal supplement store or local pot dealer. That is why making medical marijuana available is so key.
Anxiety, like Depression comes with a fair amount of stigma, and ignorance as people try to associate these conditions to the their own anxious and depressed moods. Diagnostic Anxieties and Depressions are not moods. They are debilitating conditions that can not be fixed with meditation, exercise and some fresh air (even though those things are all lovely and might help a bit when the sufferer can wrangle their disorder enough to attempt some self care rituals).
Making cannabis available for the treatment of Anxiety threatens to increase the stigma of Anxiety, but the benefits outweigh the costs. This will revolutionize the treatment of Anxieties in all their diagnostic forms, with different strains and dosages for Panic Disorders and Phobias, Generalized Anxieties and Social Anxieties. If you suffer from Anxiety, and live in a State that has legalized medical marijuana, start the conversation with your Psychiatrist, including how you are going to titrate off any current medication, ….and then run, don’t walk, to a medical prescriber immediately.
Smith is an analytically oriented psychotherapist with 25 years in practice. She is additionally the Founder/Director of Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice, which specializes in matching clients with seasoned clinicians in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
If you are interested in therapy and live in Philadelphia or the Greater Philadelphia Area, please let Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice match you with a skilled, experienced psychotherapist based on your needs and issues as well as your and own therapists' personalities and styles. All of our therapists are available for telehealth conferencing by phone or video in response to our current need for social distancing.