Cannabis and Anxiety

The Connection Between Cannabis and Anxiety: The Role of CBD

The Hemp Facts
August 17, 2023

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is, in essence, a form of the body’s response to stress, otherwise known as the fight-or-flight response.  Ancestors of modern humans, when hunting or escaping from predators, benefitted from the energy boost and heightened awareness associated with this fight-or-flight response.

Anxiety is the body’s response to stress, known as the fight-or-flight response. Fight-or-flight is a reaction to an immediate stressor, such as escaping from predators or hunting prey. However, in modern humans, anxiety is commonly a response to everyday stressors that are not dangerous but are still taxing on the body, such as an upcoming exam.

This pent-up energy is then funneled into symptoms of anxiety.

Research has shown that anxiety is a reaction to an event or situation perceived by the brain as stressful. One of the many neurotransmitters and hormones involved in anxiety is serotonin. When your body is experiencing this, it can manifest with physical symptoms such as heart rate, nausea, dizziness, and perspiration.

What are anxiety disorders?

In some individuals, an abnormality in the balance of brain biochemistry leads to excessive, constant, and unrelenting anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. These disorders cause people to feel irrational fear about everyday stressors or circumstances. The severity of this disorder can be so great that it sometimes overwhelms the person’s life.

Anxiety disorders are a broad category of mental illness that can range from panic disorders and phobias to general anxiety disorder. While the exact cause is not yet understood, it is known that people with anxiety disorders often have a co-occurring depression. Risk factors for anxiety disorders are also not fully known, but they are being studied to better understand them.

Mental health is complicated. Mental health conditions are the result of a complex interaction between genetic and circumstantial factors. For example, if you have family members that suffer from anxiety disorders, then you have a higher risk of developing one. In other words, these disorders may be triggered by stress and anxiety.

What’s the relationship between cannabis and anxiety?

The relationship between cannabis and anxiety is not well understood. However, many people who have smoked pot can testify to the calming effect it has on them. Usually, that’s the intention. Whether you are suffering from anxiety triggered by financial worries or a job interview, smoking weed can help mellow out the stress and replace it with a feeling of peace.

So if we have the choice between some degree of anxiety and a high, what do you think we should choose? There are many stories of people who have experienced the stress-elevating effects of marijuana. Highs gone wrong – uncontrollable sweating or fidgeting during a job interview, inability to concentrate during an exam.

So, the question is, does marijuana ease or increase a person’s anxiety?

The effects of marijuana depend on an individual’s state of mind. For example, some people experience anxiety-elevating effects while others are more susceptible to panic attacks. This is because marijuana can intensify a person’s existing symptoms. If you have an anxiety condition or disorder, be aware of the heightened effects of marijuana and take caution if using it.

The experience of marijuana varies for each person with each use. THC and CBD are the two main compounds in marijuana, and knowing the difference can help you understand the relationship between marijuana and anxiety. To have some understanding of the relationship between cannabis and anxiety, it’s important to know the difference between THC and CBD.


The CB1 receptor is a protein found on the surface of neurons which are responsible for regulating the fight-or-flight response. The CB1 receptor binds to two different cannabinoids, THC and CBD. These cannabinoids help regulate certain neurotransmitters that provide us with emotional responses.

The CB1 receptor is the target of a neurotransmitter that is naturally found in the brain. When this neurotransmitter binds to the CB1 receptor, it reduces the tendency of the brain to initiate the fight-or-flight response in reaction to a threat.

THC and CBD are actually quite different when it comes to anxiety. Despite the similarities in their molecular-level structure, these two cannabinoids produce very different effects on anxiety. THC causes a more intense high that can cause anxiety, paranoia, and racing heart rates. CBD may help reduce anxiety but doesn’t cause various side effects that THC has, such as paranoia or a racing heart rate.

Let’s first take a look at THC. This is the psychoactive compound of cannabis.

THC, or delta-9 THC, is the chemical in marijuana that produces the euphoric “high” sensation. However, there is a bi-phasic dosage effect of THC. For recreational users, small doses can produce a mellow feeling. Too much at a time can be dangerous for first-time or infrequent users.

If a user is regularly consuming weed, they might start to develop a tolerance and increase their threshold to the point where they’re not feeling the paranoia as much. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that’s typically of interest to medical users.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid that has many benefits. With a vast array of medical applications, it can sometimes counteract the anxiety-inducing effects of THC. Previously, high THC strains were popular for people looking for a quicker high. The key takeaway here is that CBD can be helpful in treating conditions such as chronic pain, depression, and epilepsy.

Look, I’m not into drugs or anything like that. And I don’t want to get passive-aggressive with my friends. But ever since CBD has been legalized and understood, it seems that more people are using it. High-CBD strains give you more control of your experience and are more likely to make you feel relaxed instead of high or anxious.

If you’re living in a state or country where growing marijuana is legal, you can easily get a supply of marijuana packed with CBD by getting marijuana seeds that are classified as a ‘high-CBD strain’.

How else can I avoid cannabis-induced anxiety?

There are steps you can take to prevent cannabis-induced anxiety. One way is to plan ahead before using. If possible, try to choose a place that is either relaxing or calm. Your environment will have an effect on your experience. If you’re in a pleasant, relaxed place, you’re more likely to have a good time.

CBD is not a miracle drug, and Mr. Confident will not magically turn up at your interview. Avoid the edibles. THC has much stronger effects when it is ingested orally. This results in an increased risk of a high characterized by paranoia and panic.

CBD hemp oil with very little or no THC is another great option for many people.

THC is the cannabinoid that people most often get anxious about. So, if you want to avoid anxiety altogether, then you should avoid THC. However, some people have found that CBD hemp oil can help elevate their sense of well-being. Finally, if you have a serious, chronic anxiety disorder, don’t try to self-medicate your condition using cannabis without consulting a mental health care professional.

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