How Marijuana might cause anxiety

Finally, actual research done on cannabis’s link to anxiety. Cure? Cause? That remains up to debate. Turns out marijuana is effective for both. The response to marijuana is dose-dependent, meaning in smaller amounts, our friend Jane is anxioLYTIC (reduces anxiety). Higher doses were associated with an anxiogenic (anxiety causing) response and specifically in your amygdala, a small part of your brain that functions fear, emotional memories, aggression, and sex amongst other things. Beyond that, THC was seen to be more anxiety causing than its psychoactive counterpart, cannabidiol (responsible for most of the medical benefits of weed). Cannabidiol was seen to be almost completely anxiolytic, which is good news for marijuana’s growing use in medicine in the near future. With all this being said, it’s not true that marijuana simply causes anxiety if smoked enough. The trend remains that its effects are slightly different in EVERYONE. Some people use it to fight off their anxieties, claiming that it helps them face their fears and reason through them. This drug certainly should be assessed in more than a purely physiologic way, meaning there might be some deeper, more esoteric reason to its paranoia-linked effects. Why not look at it from all angles? For those very prone to anxious behavior, it might be a good idea to chill on the amount.

It is paradoxical that while individuals report reduced anxiety as the motivation for using cannabis, yet acute anxiety is the most common adverse effect of cannabis use. These conflicting statements may be reconciled through the observation that the effects of cannabis on anxiety appear to be dose-dependent. Thus, low doses of the cannabinoid receptor agonists, nabilone (Onaiviet al., 1990), CP 55.940 (Marcoet al., 2008) and D9-THC (Berrendero and Maldonado, 2002) have anxio-lytic-like effects in laboratory rodents, whereas higher doses produce anxiogenic behaviour and activate the hypotalamic–pituitary–adrenocortical axis (Berren-dero and Maldonado, 2002; Giuliani et al., 2000 Manzanares et al., 1999; Viveros et al., 2005). Anxietyinduced by D9-THC is facilitated by exposure to novel or stressful environments that appears to be mediated by the central amygdala (Patelet al., 2005; Phanet al., 2008). Although D9-THC is commonly regarded as the main factor responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, several reports have demonstrated that other components of the plant influence its pharmacological activity. One of these compounds is CBD, which may constitute up to 40% of cannabis extracts and is not associated with the psychological and cognitive effects usually associated with cannabis use in humans. In fact, studies in laboratory animals and in humans have demonstrated that CBD has anxiolytic properties (Fusar-Poli et al., 2009); in contrast with the anxiogenic effects of D9-THC in high doses (Zuardiet al., 1982). Plant samples vary in the proportions and relative concentrations of THC and CBD. These depend on soil and weather conditions, where the plant grew, the part of the plant which provided the sample (stems have more CBD, leaves and flowers have more D9-THC); and other factors. The present review demonstrates that cannabis use and anxiety symptoms/disorders often co-occur.Several factors may explain this association, but further research is needed to clarify the mechanisms by which cannabis use may cause acute anxiety and long-lasting anxiety disorders. Longitudinal studies may be helpful in obtaining better understanding of environmental, social, neurobiological and other confounding factors. Through such studies, more specific and efficacious treatments and primary prevention strategies could be more easily developed.

Authors: Jose Alexandre Crippa, Antonio Waldo Zuardi, Rocio Martin Santos, Sagnik Bhattacharyya, Zerrin Atakan, Philip McGuire and Paolo Fusar-Poli
From: The Seattle Times
Date: Released on September 19th, 2013
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