What is anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as a feeling of stress, panic, or fear that affects your everyday life on an ongoing basis, often both physically and psychologically. The latest statistics in 2013 showed there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK and that is expected to have increased dramatically during the Coronavirus pandemic. It can occur either as an ongoing feeling that comes and goes or as a generalised anxiety disorder.


What are the symptoms of anxiety?

The severity of symptoms will often vary from person to person and can be triggered or worsened by certain environmental factors. These triggers can be specific phobias or a pre-existing panic disorder. However, it can also not be clear what is causing the anxiety. That is a normal feeling and not one to worry about excessively.

Common psychological symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Restlessness
  • Feelings of dread
  • Feeling constantly “on edge”
  • Difficulty or inability of concentrating
  • Feelings of irritability
  • Withdrawing from social contact
  • Finding it hard to keep up with expectations, such as going to work, school, or similar

There is also a range of physical symptoms that may be experienced:

  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle aches and tension
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach ache or cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Pins and needles
  • Insomnia

A person with anxiety may feel all or just a couple of these symptoms. They can persist for hours at a time, or only occur when the person is triggered by a specific event or environment. 


What causes anxiety?

As noted above, certain triggers can cause anxiety in a person. For example, someone with agoraphobia may feel anxious when faced with situations where they feel like they cannot escape, such as public transport or large crowds.

Outside of that, anxiety can also be caused by:

  • Childhood trauma
    • Physical or emotional abuse
    • Neglect
    • Losing a parent
    • Being bullied or being socially excluded
  • Current life stressors
    • Lots of change or uncertainty
    • Pressure from work or study
    • Unemployment
    • Financial problems
    • Housing problems and homelessness
    • Worrying about the environment or natural disasters, sometimes known as climate anxiety or eco-anxiety
    • Grief or bereavement
    • Feeling lonely or isolated
    • Being abused, bullied or harassed
  • Other health conditions
    • Living with a long-term physical illness
    • Living with a life-threatening condition
    • Living with depression or another long-term mental illness
  • Use of drugs and medication
    • Some psychiatric medications
    • Side effects of some medications for physical health conditions
    • Recreational drugs
    • Alcohol

It can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause at first, but many forms of therapy are centred around identifying and dealing with the source of anxiety.


What treatment options are available for anxiety?

There are a variety of treatment options that can be pursued, largely depending on the severity and cause of anxiety. For anxiety related to drug or alcohol misuse or depression, it’s often advised that those other problems be addressed first, as that might solve the anxiety in itself.

In addition, the following forms of treatment have been known to help:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Applied relaxation
  • Guided self-help
  • Prescription medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), pregabalin, or benzodiazepines
  • Combined therapy, meaning treatment from a team made up of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, and social workers

Treatment for anxiety is often done with the goal of managing symptoms. For many, anxiety will never fully disappear but they can learn ways of managing symptoms, dealing with triggers, and overall influencing how much it affects their daily life. Over time, instances of anxiety will gradually reduce and become more manageable.


How can medical cannabis help with anxiety?

When it comes to managing the symptoms of anxiety, medical cannabis can be helpful in managing the symptoms and reducing the overall feeling of anxiety. 

A study in 2017 showed that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in responses to stress and anxiety, namely that the two primary active ingredients of marijuana, THC and CBD, have a few different effects when it comes to anxiety. 

Pure THC appears to decrease anxiety at lower doses, while pure CBD appears to decrease anxiety at all dosage levels. 

This indicates that medical cannabis could be effective for some when it comes to managing symptoms of anxiety.

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, our expert specialist doctors can guide you through treatment plans and offer private care for patients through online video link consultations.

Appointments start from only £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to guide you through your treatment options.

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