Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, and they affect 18.1 percent of the population annually. More than 40 million adults aged 18 and older struggle with it each day, yet most of them go untreated. This is unfortunate, because anxiety is easily treatable, yet only 36.9 percent of those impacted by it receive treatment. The risks associated with anxiety are far-reaching and affect overall health. Those who suffer untreated are up to five times more likely to visit their doctors and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders.
The risk factors associated with anxiety can be complex. Many of those who suffer from it also struggle with depression. Nearly half of those who suffer from depression also suffer from anxiety disorder. Other factors that can result in chronic anxiety are traumatic life events, brain chemistry, and personality. Because anxiety can be a trend in families, genetics are also thought to play a role.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety and often are considered to be forms of it. Many people suffer from both simultaneously, along with depression. The large number of Americans on antidepressant medication benefit from it for their anxiety. Numerous categories of anxiety are commonly diagnosed. Let’s identify some of the most-common forms.
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). This is the most common cause of disability in the US for people ages 15 to 45. More than 16 million Americans suffer from it in a given year. MDD can occur at any age, but it is most common in women in their early 30s.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD). PDD is long-term depression that lasts longer than two years. It impacts 3.3 million American over the age of 18, but more than 60 percent of those who suffer from it receive treatment.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The are 6.8 million adults who suffer from GAD, yet less than 44 percent of them receive treatment. Women are twice as likely to suffer from GAD than men.
- Panic Disorder (PD). Many people suffer from panic attacks, and many people consider this term to be synonymous with anxiety, although it is just one of the diagnosable forms. Again, women suffer from it the most, with twice as many of them affected by it compared to men.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Another common type of anxiety strikes people when they are exposed to crowded social situations. Nearly 7 percent of Americans are affected by SAD, which equates to 15 million adults. Men and women are equally impacted by it, with some of them having experienced it since age 13.
- Specific Phobias (SP). The fear of specific situations or things is common, and you have likely known someone who experiences this condition—or you might even struggle with it yourself. Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) and Acrophobia (fear of heights) are two of the most common types of SP. Despite these fears being seeming irrational, they are very real to and can profoundly affect those afflicted with them. SP affects 8.7 percent of the US population (19 million adults), with women twice as likely to experience it than men.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD affects 1 percent of the US population (more than 2.2 million adults). Both men and women are equally affected by it. Most people with OCD show signs of it by age 19, with some showing signs as early as 14.
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Women are more commonly affected by PTSD than men, which is likely because rape is the most likely trigger for it. Among rape victims, 65 percent of men and 46 percent of women will develop the disorder. Childhood sexual abuse is a leading cause of PTSD.
For many people who experience anxiety on a regular basis, cannabis is an effective way of controlling it. Since some cannabis strains also work well for treating depression—which commonly occurs with anxiety—these two commonly concurrent mental disorders can benefit from its use.
Sativa as a Trigger for Anxiety
Interestingly, as effective as some cannabis strains are for anxiety, many cannabis consumers avoid sativa strains because of the anxiety that can occur from its use. While stories of anxiety attacks associated with sativa use are all too common, sativa strains get a bad rap for something that’s more likely due to the terpene content and cannabinoid profiles of some sativa strains than the fact that their genetics lean heavily to the sativa side.
The following strains are known as effective remedies for anxiety. Because cannabidiol ( CBD) is recognized as a good foil for fending off anxiety, some of these strains contain elevated percentages of CBD compared to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
This heavy CBD strain has a CBD-to-THC ratio that can go as high as 20:1. With minimal mind-altering effects, ACDC is the perfect medicine for anxiety. This sativa-dominant strain can contain lofty CBD levels that go as high as 19 percent. In the terpene department, the flavors include woody, earthy, pine notes.
A hard-hitting indica if ever there was one, “Granddaddy Purps” enjoys wide popularity in both the recreational and medical cannabis markets. Its sweet grape and berry flavors and deeply sedating effects make it a good treatment for anxiety. The strain’s immense popularity is largely due to its strength, high yield, and reputation for being easy to grow.
Another strain for CBD fans, Cannatonic will put anxious feelings to rest. For many people, the CBD-to-THC ratio is perfect, sometimes hitting an ideal 1:1 balance. This interesting strain was developed by Spanish seed company Resin Seeds, with the intention of keeping THC levels low. Cannatonic’s THC levels rarely stray above 6 percent, while its CBD can climb as high as 6 to 18 percent.
Another indica heavyweight like Granddaddy Purple, Northern Lights has been an industry favorite for several decades. Northern Lights #5 is probably the most highly regarded phenotype of this strain, and it’s been used extensively as a cornerstone strain for the creation of other strains. With sweet and dank flavors, Northern Lights provides a deeply relaxing effect that makes anxiety fade away.
Another industry favorite, especially when it first hit the scene two or more decades ago, Strawberry Cough has an extremely pleasing flavor of strawberries, with a soft, creamy quality. With its heavy sativa-leaning genetics, many people might not consider it effective for anxiety, but Strawberry Cough definitely delivers in this department and is a classic “FEEL-GOOD STRAIN.”
Like Strawberry Cough, the classic sativa strain Jack Herer might surprise people for being an effective form of anxiety relief, but also like Strawberry Cough, Jack Herer is a quintessential happy strain that is sure to lift a dreary or stressed disposition. No doubt Northern Lights #5’s strong presence in its background makes this sativa an industry favorite. In the aroma and flavor departments, Jack Herer has distinctive Hazey notes and a slightly sweet and fruity quality with some of the better phenotypes.
As an indica-dominant strain, Blackberry Kush has deeply relaxing effects that do a great job of taking the edge off anxiety. The earthy and skunky dankness coupled with pleasing berry and mildly diesel notes make it very enjoyable for its flavor as well. Blackberry Kush also makes it a good strain for pain relief.