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Understanding Anxiety and How Cannabinoids May Help
Anxiety is a mental health condition characterized by feelings of worry, fear, or tension. Anxiety can also cause panic attacks and physical symptoms such as chest pain for some people. Anxiety disorders are extremely common. Anxiety and depression affect 40 million Americans, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Mental health conditions like anxiety disorders are most prevalent in the United States, affecting 31% of the population. As a result of stigma, anxiety disorders are often overlooked or under-diagnosed.
A number of anxiety disorders go untreated – only 46% receive treatment for these conditions. As a result of the high cost of treatment and other barriers to treatment, many people are turning to alternative ways of dealing with anxiety, such as cannabis and hemp-derived cannabinoids.
There are more than 40 million Americans with anxiety disorders, but less than half of them receive treatment during their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States. Anxiety disorders are significantly under-diagnosed and under-treated because of social stigma surrounding them.
Additionally, anxiety is often brushed under the rug, even though everyone encounters anxiety and stress on a daily basis. Furthermore, mental healthcare providers are not reimbursed directly by public and private health insurance companies, making patients jump through extra hoops without knowing if their care will be covered by insurance. This is compounded by the lack of mental health professionals and the complex health insurance system.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
If you constantly feel anxious without knowing why, this is a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Common symptoms GAD include:
- uncontrollable worry
- irrational fear
- difficulty focusing/concentrating
- irritability/feeling on edge
- difficulty sleeping, insomnia or restlessness
- muscle tension
- a rapid heart rate
- general physical discomfort
- a vague “tingling” sensation
Symptoms of a severe panic disorder might include:
- a rapid heart rate or palpitations
- profuse sweating
- trembling or shaking
- feeling as if your throat is closing
If you believe you worry too much or suspect you have an anxiety disorder, it’s time to seek help. Recognizing anxiety is often difficult because the symptoms become common over time.
How to identify Anxiety Triggers
The first step to controlling anxiety is to identify what triggers it. Managing anxiety better can be accomplished by understanding its causes.
Anxiety disorders can have a variety of causes. There are likely to be several factors at play, including genetics and the environment.
Nonetheless, there are some experiences, emotions, or events that may worsen anxiety symptoms or cause them to begin. It is these elements that are called triggers.
Each person’s anxiety triggers are different, but many triggers are common among people with these disorders. The majority of people find that they have multiple triggers. Some people, however, can experience anxiety attacks without any apparent reason.
Due to this, it’s essential to identify any anxiety triggers you may have. The first step to managing your triggers is identifying them. Here are some
Some medical conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, COPD, and diabetes, may be associated with anxiety.
An upsetting or difficult health diagnosis, such as cancer or a chronic illness, can trigger or exacerbate anxiety. The immediate and personal feelings it evokes make this type of trigger very powerful.
Engaging with your doctor and being proactive can reduce anxiety caused by health issues. You may also find it helpful to speak with a therapist to learn how to manage your emotions around your diagnosis.
Any person can experience anxiety when they experience daily stressors such as traffic jams and missing their train. The problem arises when stress persists for a long period of time, resulting in chronic anxiety and worsening symptoms. Behavioral responses to stress may also include skipping meals, drinking alcohol, or sleeping insufficiently. Anxiety can also be triggered or worsened by these factors.
Coping mechanisms are often necessary for treating and preventing stress. By learning how to recognize and handle your sources of stress, a therapist or counselor can help you cope with them when they become overwhelming or problematic.
There are certain prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications that may trigger anxiety symptoms. You could feel uneasy or unwell as a result of these medications’ active ingredients. In addition to anxiety symptoms, those feelings can set in motion an array of events in your mind and body.
Specific medications that may trigger anxiety include weight loss medications, cough and cold medications, and birth control pills.
Food can effect your mood
Your blood sugar drops when you don’t eat often enough or skip meals. You may experience jittery hands and an upset stomach as a result. There is also a possibility that it can trigger anxiety.
There are many reasons why it is important to eat balanced meals. A good source of energy and nutrients, it provides you with the energy you need. The best way to prevent low blood sugar, feeling nervous or agitated, and anxiety is to consume healthy snacks every day if you can’t make time for three meals a day.
When you’re anxious, your mind controls much of your body. It is possible for the words you say to yourself to trigger greater anxiety if you are upset or frustrated. It is helpful to learn to refocus your language and feelings when you start down this path if you tend to think negatively about yourself. This process can be immensely helpful when working with a therapist.
Feelings of anxiety may worsen if people rely on their morning cup of coffee to wake up, and more so when it is unavailable.
A review in 2022 found that drinking five cups of coffee can trigger panic attacks in people with panic disorder. Another study over a period of two years with 420 your adult participants found that males who consumed energy drinks experienced increased anxiety, while females did not.
Consider substituting non-caffeinated options whenever possible to reduce your caffeine intake if you think caffeine might be an anxiety trigger for you.
Public speaking and social events
It is common for people to experience anxiety when they have to speak in public, interact with their bosses, perform in competitive events, or even simply read aloud. A doctor or therapist can assist you in gaining more comfort in these settings, if this is a requirement of your job or hobby. Additionally, positive reinforcement from friends and colleagues can give you a sense of confidence and comfort.
You aren’t alone if a room full of strangers doesn’t sound fun. Making small talk or interacting with people you don’t know can trigger feelings of anxiety, which may be diagnosed as social anxiety disorder.
Bring a companion along when you are able to ease your worries or anxiety. However, working with a professional is also important to find coping mechanisms that will make long-term management of these events easier.
There are many conflict types that can trigger or worsen anxiety, including relationship problems, arguments, disagreements. Conflict resolution strategies may be helpful if conflict triggers you in a particular way. Learn how to manage the feelings caused by these conflicts by speaking with a therapist or other mental health expert.
Anxiety can be caused by worrying about debt or saving money. Money fears or unexpected bills are also triggers. Professional help, such as from a financial advisor, may be needed to manage these types of triggers. Your concern may be eased by having someone to guide you and accompany you through the process.
Unique personal triggers
Mental health specialists are trained to help you identify these triggers, even if they are difficult to recognize. There are many ways to start a memory, including a smell, a place, or even a song. The triggers in your life that bring back traumatic memories or bad memories, either consciously or unconsciously, remind you of those events. The environment frequently triggers anxiety in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Understanding your own personal triggers is important so you can learn to overcome them.
By identifying and understanding your triggers, you will be able to cope with them and avoid them in the future. When triggers occur, you can learn specific coping strategies for dealing with them.
Some Tips for Identifying Anxiety Triggers
Be honest and patient with yourself.
When you are anxious, you are more likely to have negative thoughts and make a poor assessment of yourself. Trigger identification can be difficult as a result of anxious reactions. Consider how the things in your past may be affecting you today, and be patient with yourself.
Keep an Anxiety Journal or use an app.
You might consider keeping a record of the times you experience anxietyby writing them down, as well as what you think might have triggered it. It is also possible to track your anxiety using some apps, such as MindFull, Panic Tracker or Worry Watch.
Consider talk therapy
There are some anxiety triggers that are difficult to identify, but a mental health specialist has the training to help. Triggers can be identified through talk therapy, journaling, or other methods. Anxiety can have a negative impact on your daily life if it is limiting your activities on a daily basis. Mental health professionals can help you find a treatment plan that eases your symptoms, as well as cope with anxiety triggers.
There is good news, though: anxiety can be treated effectively. In spite of this, many people who suffer from anxiety never seek treatment for it. Talk to your doctor first. Your symptoms will be discussed, your medical history will be taken, and you will undergo a physical examination. A physical problem that may be contributing to the issues can also be ruled out.
A doctor may then decide to prescribe medication for you. It may also be appropriate for them to refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Anxiety can be treated and triggers prevented with talk therapy and medication offered by these doctors.
How can cannabis or hemp cannabinoids help with anxiety?
To date, there is a need for more clinical research on cannabis as a treatment for anxiety disorders. A state-certified cannabis clinician should be consulted before using cannabis for anxiety the same way pharmaceuticals aren’t a replacement for talk therapy.
Existing research does reveal these key points:
Lower doses of THC appear to decrease anxiety, while higher doses seem to increase anxiety.
In particular, CBD appears to reduce anxiety at all doses tested.
The use of pharmaceuticals, including cannabis, should not replace talk therapy, but rather be used in conjunction with it.
In observational studies and clinical trials, people commonly report that cannabis helps them cope with anxiety. However, there has been no conclusive evidence supporting this claim.
Patients report less side effects after replacing pharmaceuticals with cannabis to treat their medical conditions as one reason for replacing pharmaceuticals with cannabis. Existing pharmaceutical therapies come with mixed evidence as well. In addition to the side effects of these pharmaceuticals, the stigma and red tape that impede treatment have led some patients to turn to alternative treatments such as cannabis. Clinical research on cannabis as a treatment for anxiety is limited, so the results may change in the future.
Based on a large body of research, a report from the University of Washington offers several general conclusions about the effectiveness of cannabis in treating anxiety. Despite Pennsylvania’s position as one of the few states that consider anxiety disorder a qualifying condition, medical cannabis patients and medicinal users across the country frequently report use of cannabis to effectively manage their anxiety.
There is, however, limited clinical evidence showing cannabis can effectively treat anxiety, due to the complexities of cannabis compounds and the federal legal status of cannabis. A potential limitation of observational studies is that they may only take into account THC and CBD, rather than strains, cannabinoid ratios, and terpene profiles to determine dosing and effects. In the report, it is acknowledged that observational studies also yielded mixed results. The effects of THC on anxiety appear to decrease at lower doses and increase at higher doses, while CBD appears to decrease anxiety at all levels. THC and CBD ratios of cannabis products, such as 2:1 and 1:1, have been studied rarely.
This article content is not professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any self-medication or dietary supplement regimine.