Anxiety is your body’s natural way of dealing with stressful situations. A racing heart and sweaty palms are sometimes a good thing before a job interview or a big presentation. It’s your fight-or-flight response triggering more blood flow and releasing stress hormones, preparing you to take on the challenge.
But not all sweaty-palm situations are positive. An anxiety disorder is something more than this—it’s more than a temporary worry or fear. And sometimes it can get worse. When anxiety stands in the way of your daily activities or affects relationships, work or enjoyment, replace worry with hope by exploring the viable therapeutic options out there, which includes plant-based therapy.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are many types of anxiety disorders, each with different signs and symptoms, although some may overlap.
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a feeling of ongoing anxiety or dread which interferes with everyday life. This feeling can continue for months or years.
- Panic disorder brings on frequent and unexpected panic attacks with feelings of intense fear, discomfort or a sense of losing control when there is no clear danger.
- Social anxiety disorder is a persistent and intense fear of being watched and judged by others.
- Phobia-related disorders are where a person has an intense fear or aversion to a specific object or situation disproportional to the actual danger. These include specific phobias, social anxiety disorder (previously known as social phobia), agoraphobia, and separation anxiety disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
While each anxiety disorder has specific symptoms, there are some common signs, feelings and behaviour that are associated with the various forms of anxiety.
- Physical symptoms include panic attacks, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, racing heart, sweating, churning or aching stomach, and sleep problems.
- Behavioural signs include situation avoidance and excessive persistent worry, often all-consuming.
- Feelings include apprehension, powerlessness, doom, dread, danger, difficulty concentrating and memory problems.
How to Know When to Seek Help
While stress is normal when feelings of anxiety become persistent, debilitating and out of proportion to the situation, it’s time to speak to a healthcare professional. Anxiety that stands in the way of you doing what you need to do warrants medical guidance.
As a start, a GP or healthcare professional will want to consider any physical underlying conditions that may be causing symptoms. If a physical condition is ruled out, with the guidance of a healthcare professional, diagnosing anxiety involves some common self-assessment anxiety diagnostic tests.
The Endocannabinoid System’s Role in Regulating Anxiety
Your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a crucial role in regulating a range of functions from sleep, appetite and reproduction to memory, mood and inflammation. These functions contribute to your body’s state of balance. The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes. Researchers believe an endocannabinoid deficiency is the underlying cause of many health issues.
Endocannabinoids are your body’s own version of the cannabis compound phytocannabinoids. Conversely, phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are interpreted as endocannabinoids by your body. This is how and why medical cannabis works as a considered therapeutic option to treat a number of health issues, including anxiety.
Traditional Treatments for Anxiety
Traditional treatment for anxiety includes anti-anxiety medication and in some cases anti-depressants. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is part of the psychotherapy toolkit in treating anxiety.
Plant Therapy for Anxiety
Medical cannabis is another therapeutic option to help treat anxiety. Legal in Australia and regulated by the government, plant therapy is available to Australians through the government’s TGA approval process with the help of a healthcare professional. Various research studies point towards medical cannabis as a successful treatment option for anxiety, some of which include:
- The clinical effectiveness of using medical cannabis for anxiety.
- Improvements in PTSD global symptom severity, frequency of nightmares, sleep quality and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms.
- Medical cannabis helps improve OCD with increasing evidence of the endocannabinoid system’s involvement with the pathophysiology of OCD.
- CBD may be beneficial for anxiety-related disorders and reducing anxiety.
While more wide-scale and long-term research is needed, the results are promising. With healthcare and patient interest in plant therapy growing, medical cannabis is proving to be a considered option in treating anxiety for improved wellbeing.
In Partnership with Cannatrek #A