As of this blog post, 30 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have all approved the broad use of medical marijuana. In addition, several other states allow limited medical use and 8 states (plus the District of Columbia) allow recreational use of pot. Even though the use of marijuana is becoming more acceptable, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still classifies pot and weed (marijuana) as a Schedule I substance, meaning it is likely to be abused and it completely lacks medical value. Because of this classification, there hasn’t been much research into the efficacy of the drug for medical conditions. In particular, we lack long-term studies that would tell us whether it is safe and/or effective when used over a long period of time.
What we do know is that, in our clinical practice – and in those of colleagues in other practices – we have seen an increase in the number of incidents of anxiety, depression, panic attacks and even psychotic reactions since marijuana use has become more mainstream.
Whether it’s used recreationally or medicinally, both forms of pot are the same product. The medical version contains cannabinoids just like recreational marijuana. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals found in the medical form.
Although medical marijuana is used for many conditions (among them: multiple sclerosis (MS), seizure disorders, cancer and glaucoma), its effectiveness hasn’t been proven. “The greatest amount of evidence for the therapeutic effects of cannabis relate to its ability to reduce chronic pain, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and spasticity[tight or stiff muscles] from MS,” says Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, a substance abuse specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
As we’ve said, right now there aren’t many studies out there on the relationship between marijuana use and mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. However, there was a study done in 2017 which examined marijuana use in conjunction with the depression and anxiety symptoms in 307 psychiatry outpatients who had depression (Bahorik et al., 2017). The results of this study showed that “marijuana use worsened depression and anxiety symptoms; marijuana use led to poorer mental health functioning.” In addition, the research found that medical marijuana was associated with inferior physical health functioning.
A big part of the problem with using marijuana either medically or recreationally is that there is no way to regulate the amount of THC you’re getting in the product, because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t oversee it. This means that both the ingredients and the strength of them can vary quite a lot. “We did a study last year [in 2016] in which we purchased labeled edible products, like brownies and lollipops, in California and Washington. Then we sent them to the lab,” Bonn-Miller says. “Few of the products contained anywhere near what they said they did. That’s a problem.”
Another area of concern is that, as we know from regulated psychiatric medications, one dose may affect you differently than it affects your sibling or a friend. People are unique – each person’s reaction to a medication will vary, which is why psychiatric medications are monitored by the prescribing doctor so that the dosage can be adjusted for your specific needs.
In summary, if you choose to use marijuana either recreationally or medically, be careful. Talk to the physician who authorized it, or speak with a mental health professional if you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of depression or anxiety, or if you have panic attacks that begin or worsen while you are using marijuana. Additionally, be sure your doctor knows your psychiatric history before they authorize medical marijuana for you, especially if you have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, experience panic attacks or have bipolar disorder or psychosis.
We can answer your questions about marijuana use and how it affects anxiety, depression, or other conditions. The mental health professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are here to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.
Reference: Bahorik, Amber L.; Leibowitz, Amy; Sterling, Stacy A.; Travis, Adam; Weisner, Constance; Satre, Derek D. (2017). Patterns of marijuana use among psychiatry patients with depression and its impact on recovery. Journal of Affective Disorders, 213, 168-171).
It’s hard to believe it but it’s that time again: schools are welcoming back students all across the country. The summer weeks have passed and parents everywhere are stocking up on school supplies while their children pick out their favorite lunch boxes.
For many kids, the start of school is exciting. They get to see the friends they’ve missed all summer and there’s a sense of being that much closer to being “all grown up” or becoming an adult. However, some children have a school phobia that can give them the first-day jitters. These children will likely experience increased anxiety with the beginning of school.
School phobia is a complex and extreme form of anxiety. It is also known as school depression or school refusal and can occur for many reasons, including:
One of the most common triggers of school phobia (first-day jitters) is starting school for the first time. The child experiences separation anxiety because they find it difficult to comprehend being away from their parents for an extended period of time. In addition, if the child is not used to having an entire day organized for them, the schedule at school can add to the stress they feel.
For older children who have been in school for a while, most back-to-school anxiety is directly related to their fears about how they will perform in school. They wonder if they will do well in games, be asked to answer questions, or be asked to read aloud. In addition, some children have been targeted by bullies or have been made fun of in past school years, so they feel anxious about possibly repeating this abuse in the new school year.
When school depression and anxiety starts to creeps into your child’s mind, the symptoms will be fairly obvious. The child will usually suffer from the following school anxiety symptoms:
You can do some things at home to help with school anxiety in your children, including:
If you suspect that your child is developing a school phobia, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible: the longer the anxiety continues the harder it can be to treat.
For more help with anxiety treatment for school phobia or the first-day jitters in the Boca Raton area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-223-6568 today.
For many people, memories of going away to summer camp are some of the fondest they will ever have. Camp provides the opportunity to make new friends and share new adventures. When your child is going off to camp for the first time, however, fear of separation can make the experience seem dreadful for both parent and child, especially in the case of sleep-away camps.
Paying close attention to your child’s concerns is the first step in alleviating their anxiety. A child’s summer camp separation anxiety can display itself in a number of ways, including:
Repeated physical complaints can also be a sign of summer camp separation anxiety. These symptoms could be any of the following:
Fortunately, there are plenty of tips to help parents reduce their child’s separation anxiety. Parents are encouraged to:
In most cases, the above steps will go a long way in eliminating or reducing separation anxiety that arises before a sleep-away summer camp. In some situations, however, the anxiety may persist despite all efforts. In this instance, parents are encouraged to seek professional help, especially if the child’s symptoms have begun to interfere with their school performance or friends. For more information on summer camp separation anxiety, contact child anxiety therapist Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-223-6568 today.