Marijuana Use and Social Anxiety Disorder: A Complicated Relationship

Marijuana Use and Social Anxiety Disorder - A Complicated Relationship

Feeling nervous in social situations, like going on a first date or speaking in public, is a normal reaction; however, once the anxiety, fear, and self-consciousness become overwhelming and get in the way of everyday living, you may have a condition known as Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

What Is SAD?

SAD is a type of anxiety disorder that elicits a deep fear of social settings, causing one to panic before, during — and, sometimes, even after — social interactions. There is an irrational fear of humiliation and negative judgement that can disrupt daily activities, especially if they involve being in contact with others.

SAD is considered a chronic mental health condition characterized by emotional (e.g. formulating unreasonable self-sabotaging beliefs), behavioral (e.g. fleeing and avoiding social interactions), and physical (e.g. muscle tensing, sweating, heart racing) symptoms.

These can change over time and potentially worsen under significant amounts of stress; however, developing coping mechanisms with the help of psychotherapy and medication can help improve one’s ability to interact with others. Oftentimes, doctors would advise taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), such as Prozac and Zoloft, but these can sometimes lead to unpleasant side effects like insomnia.

Because of this, research is now being made into the possibility of a relationship between marijuana and Social Anxiety Disorder.

Are People With SAD More Likely To Use Marijuana?

A study conducted in 2009 examined the relationship between marijuana problems and social anxiety disorder among 107 marijuana users — 26.2% of whom met the criteria for SAD on the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) — and found that individuals with SAD were particularly vulnerable to marijuana-related problems.

Another question to be asked is: does marijuana cause social anxiety?

  • A 2009 study revealed that frequent cannabis users were more likely to have anxiety disorders with an appropriately high rate of usage; however, while correlation between the two is present, causation could not be determined.
  • A 2011 study found that social avoidance was related to problems with marijuana, and people who manifested greater avoidance suffered from the most severe forms.
  • A 2012 study revealed that people with clinically significant social anxiety had a higher likelihood to use marijuana when coping with social situations if avoidance was out of the question.

Can Weed Help Social Anxiety?

Many people have long-known that marijuana has natural anti-anxiety effects and use it to ease SAD symptoms. In the wake of its expanding legalization, the use of weed for social anxiety has had more and more people trading their pharmaceuticals in favor of cannabis. Although research on how cannabis can help SAD is still in its nursing stages, there is increasing evidence showing that marijuana can help with anxiety, and cannabidiol (CBD) is the answer.

CBD has an anxiety-calming (or anxiolytic-like) effect wherein it interacts with serotonin — also known as the “happy hormone” — which is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating one’s mood and promoting feelings of well-being. With that said, there are some studies that prove its effectiveness in the form of CBD oil. Unfortunately, a 2015 review stated that a majority of the research used animals in testing instead of humans.

A 2018 survey also revealed that medical cannabis users reported a 58% reduction in daily distress, with a low-THC, high-CBD cannabis strain providing the most effective results in reducing stress, panic, and anxiety.

What Are the Best Cannabis Strains for SAD?

If you’re considering the therapeutic relationship between smoking weed and social anxiety to combat symptoms of SAD, here are some helpful cannabis strains:

  • Chocolate Chunk: Its potent properties promote feelings of calmness and relaxation.
  • Good Medicine: This is very relaxing and aids in good sleep — best for those who are kept up at night.
  • Northern Lights: It has outstanding pain- and stress-relieving effects — used for reducing anxious thoughts.
  • Hell’s OG: This creates a sense of calmness while still feeling energetic enough to accomplish everyday activities.

Marijuana, specifically CBD and those with low levels of THC, has displayed potential benefits for temporarily reducing anxiety symptoms. However, despite the increasing evidence and legalization of the possible use of weed for social anxiety, it’s still best to consult health professionals. For more inquiries and information of marijuana’s benefits to mental health, reach out to our experts in our medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado Springs. Call us today for more.