What are the Correct Strains for Helping with Anxiety?


Anxiety, worry, and stress are all a part of most people’s life today. But simply experiencing anxiety or stress in and of itself does not mean you need to get professional help or you have an anxiety disorder. In fact, anxiety is a necessary warning signal of a dangerous or difficult situation. Without anxiety, we would have no way of anticipating difficulties ahead and preparing for them.

Anxiety becomes a disorder when the symptoms become chronic and interfere with our daily lives and our ability to function. People suffering from chronic anxiety often report the following symptoms:

  • Muscle tension
  • Physical weakness
  • Poor memory
  • Sweaty hands
  • Fear or confusion
  • Inability to relax
  • Constant worry
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Upset stomach
  • Poor concentration

These symptoms are severe and upsetting enough to make individuals feel extremely uncomfortable, out of control and helpless.

Anxiety disorders fall into a set of separate diagnoses, depending upon the symptoms and severity of the anxiety the person experiences. The anxiety disorders discussed in this series on anxiety are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Disorder (including panic attacks)
  • Social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder)
  • Specific phobias (also known as simple phobias)

Although obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are considered anxiety disorders, they are covered elsewhere independently on Psych Central.

Is Medical Marijuana an Effective Treatment for Bipolar Disorders, Anxiety, and Similar Mood Disorders?

D. Mark Anderson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics at Montana State University, Daniel I. Rees, PhD, Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado Denver, and Joseph J. Sabia, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics at San Diego State University, stated the following in their Jan. 2012 study “High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide,” published by the The Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its Discussion Paper Series:

“Consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be an effective treatment for depression and other mood disorders, there appears to be a sharp decrease in the suicide rate of 15- through 19-year olds males in the treatment states as compared to the control states approximately two years after legalization…

Our results suggest that the legalization of medical marijuana is associated with a 5 percent decrease in the total suicide rate, an 11 percent decrease in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males, and a 9 percent decrease in the suicide rate of 30- through 39 year-old-males. Estimates for female suicide rates are generally measured with less precision and are sensitive to functional form…

The strong association between alcohol consumption and suicide related outcomes found by previous researchers… raises the possibility that medical marijuana laws reduce the risk of suicide by decreasing alcohol consumption.”

Jan. 2012 – D. Mark Anderson, PhD 
Daniel I. Rees, PhD 
Joseph J. Sabia, PhD 

Thomas F. Denson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the California State University at Long Beach, and Mitch Earleywine, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, wrote the following in their Apr. 2006 study titled “Decreased Depression in Marijuana Users,” published in Addictive Behaviors:

“Those who consume marijuana occasionally or even daily have lower levels of depressive symptoms than those who have never tried marijuana. Specifically, weekly users had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users. Daily users reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users… Our results add to the growing body of literature on depression and marijuana and are generally consistent with a number of studies that have failed to confirm a relationship between the two after controlling for relevant variables…

The potential for medical conditions to contribute to spurious links between marijuana and greater depression requires further investigation.”

Apr. 2006 – Thomas F. Denson, PhD 

George McMahon, author and medical marijuana patient in the US Federal Drug Administration’s Investigational New Drug (IND) program, stated in his 2003 book Prescription Pot:

“People who have never struggled with a life threatening or disabling illness often do not comprehend how debilitating the resulting depression can be. Long days spent struggling with sickness can wear patients down, suppress their appetites and slowly destroy their wills to live. This psychological damage can result in physiological effects that may be the difference between living and dying.

The elevated mood associated with cannabis definitely affected my health in a positive manner. I was more engaged with life. I took walks and rode my bike, things I never considered doing before in my depressed state, even if I had been physically capable. I ate regular meals and I slept better at night. All of these individual factors contributed to a better overall sense of well-being.”

2003 – George McMahon 

Tod Mikuriya, MD, a former psychiatrist and medical coordinator, was quoted as stating the following in the 1997 book Marijuana Medical Handbook written by Dale Gieringer, Ed Rosenthal, and Gregory T. Carter:
“The power of cannabis to fight depression is perhaps its most important property.”

1997 – Tod Mikuriya, MD 

Frank Lucido, MD, a private practice physician, stated in his article “Implementation of the Compassionate Use Act in a Family Medical Practice: Seven Years Clinical Experience,” available on his website (accessed June 11, 2012):

“With appropriate use of medical cannabis, many of these [cannabis-using] patients have been able to reduce or eliminate the use of opiates and other pain pills, ritalin, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants and other psychiatric medicines, as well as to substitute the use of medical cannabis as a harm reduction measure for specific problematic or abused substances with a much more serious risk profile (including alcohol, heroin/opiates, and cocaine).”

June 11, 2012 – Frank Lucido, MD 

Jay Cavanaugh, PhD, National Director for the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis, wrote in his 2003 article “Cannabis and Depression,” published on the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis website:

“Numerous patients report significant improvement and stabilization with their bipolar disorder when they utilize adjunctive therapy with medical cannabis. While some mental health professionals worry about the impact of cannabis on aggravating manic states, most bipolar patients trying cannabis find they ‘cycle’ less often and find significant improvement in overall mood. Bipolar disorders vary tremendously in the time spent in the depressive versus manic states. Those who experience extended depressive episodes are more likely to be helped with cannabis.

Patients who use cannabis to ‘relax’ may be treating the anxiousness sometimes associated with depression. Cannabis aids the insomnia sometimes present in depression and can improve appetite. Better pain control with cannabis can reduce chronic pain related depression. While cannabis cannot yet be considered a primary treatment of major depression it may improve mood when used under physicians supervision and in combination with therapy and/or SSRI’s.”

2003 – Jay Cavanaugh, PhD 

Bill Zimmerman, PhD, former President of Americans for Medical Rights (AMR), stated in his 1998 book Is Marijuana the Right Medicine For You?:

“Some patients have found the mood altering effects of marijuana to be helpful for treating mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar (manic-depressive) illness. Using marijuana to treat mood disorders was described in medical writings in the 19th and early 20th centuries…

The mental component of the pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) often causes psychological problems and is now technically classified as an atypical (not typical) depression. Many women report benefit from using marijuana to improve the symptoms of PMS.”

1998 – Bill Zimmerman, PhD