Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the United States, affecting approximately forty million adults nationwide. This number reflects about eighteen percent of our country’s population.
Anxiety is a treatable condition, however, only around thirty-seven percent of patients seek treatment. Anxiety disorders, including social phobia, stem from a combination of inherited traits, brain structures that affect fear response, life events, and environmental factors.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, causes an intense fear that one is being evaluated or judged by others when in social settings. This persistent fear can affect many aspects of daily life, including work, school, friends, family, errands, doctor visits and more.
Although it can feel beyond ones control, social anxiety and other anxiety disorders are treatable. It is the most common type of anxiety disorder and if treatment isn’t pursued could lead to disruptions in everyday life and in severe cases could result in alcohol and cannabis dependence as a coping mechanism.
Read on to learn more about living with and treating social anxiety.
What are the symptoms?
There are many SAD symptoms and the frequency of their occurrence is dependent upon the person and whether they have attempted a potential treatment option. The symptoms of social anxiety can be broken down into three categories: physical, cognitive, and behavioral effects.
Below, we provide examples of the signs and symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder:
Physical effects- nausea, rapid heart beat, sweating, flushing, shaky, dizzy, light-headed, chronic pain
Cognitive effects- feeling out of control, high stress, self-conscious, paranoid, feeling unsettled or overwhelmed
Behavioral effects- difficulty managing pressure, avoidant of eye contact, fear of a social interaction with strangers or any other unknown social situations, making impulsive or irrational decisions, anxiety-induced panic disorder and subsequent panic attacks, freezing during public speaking
What’s a day like with social anxiety?
The intensity of social anxiety disorder (SAD) varies greatly depending on the individual and their environment.
SAD patients may experience emotional stress during ordinary activities, or anticipatory anxiety before certain events such as:
- Social encounters or introductions with strangers
- Speaking with a boss or leader
- Visiting someone’s home
- Shopping, completing transactions
- Running errands
- Doctor visits
- If they become the center of attention
- Formal or Public speaking
- If they are teased, bullied, or harrassed
- During romantic situations
- When trying to make friends
Cognitive behavioral, group, and exposure therapy along with and oral dose of prescription medication are two treatment options that are proven to make a significant difference in the symptoms of social anxiety disorder.
The different types of therapy for social anxiety disorder include:
Group Support Therapy
Group therapy allows a person with an anxiety disorder to learn social skills from others that may be going through similar situations in a safe space. Participating in group activities with other people that have anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or another mental disorder can make one feel less alone and more understood as an individual.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or talk therapy, is the most common type of therapy for those that have anxiety disorders. During talk therapy, the patient with social anxiety disorder will meet regularly with a therapist to self report measures of behaviors, emotions, and thoughts during everyday life.
This will encourage and assist the individual to recognize and address intrusive, negative, or false ideas. In time, cognitive behavior therapy can change thought patterns and help the patient to see things in a more positive light.
Exposure therapy involves easing a patient with social anxiety disorder into social settings a little bit at a time. The individual may start small and chat regularly with a therapist while emersing into society at a comfortable pace.
This category includes yoga, meditation, exercise, and acupuncture. These holistic therapies are popular for people looking to increase blood flow, change their lifestyles and build healthier habits. For some, they can assist in coping with mental disorders.
Some alternative solutions combined with medication or meeting with a therapist could successfully result in a significant decrease in anxiety and build a healthy, happy, and productive lifestyle.
There are five categories of medication used to treat anxiety. They are antidepressants, buspirone, benzodiazepines, hydroxyzine, and beta-blockers. Systematic review proves that each category includes certain drugs with their own risk factor and potential health benefits with administered acutely.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are commonly prescribed to treat social anxiety disorder. The only SSRIs that are currently FDA-approved for this condition are Zoloft and and Paxil. Extended-release venlafaxine is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that is also FDA-approved to treat social anxiety disorder.
Patients using SSRIs and SNRIs may experience the following side effects:
- Weight gain
- Sexual difficulties
Marijuana as an Alternative Treatment
The perfect strain of medical marijuana for social anxiety disorder would have a more considerable amount of CBD, and lower levels of THC, which depending on the type, can induce anxiety and panic. Critical cure is a great strain because the CBD and THC are at a nice balance. Safe access to medical marijuana strains with the combination of cannabidiol CBD concentrations could allow for the health benefits without the risks.
THC and cannabidiol CBD cannabinoids can improve sleep quality and duration in anxiety disorders. These clinical trials tell us that medical cannabis may help reduce social anxiety in the short term and help you sleep better overall.
However, before smoking marijuana or thinking of an edible as a way to ingest marijuana, we recommend speaking with your doctor and checking marijuana laws in your state. For recreational users, talking with a dispensary that you trust should point you in the right direction.
An American Psychiatric Press study stated the following in regards to their clinical data on the link between marijuana use disorders and social anxiety disorder:
“Although social anxiety disorder is related to CUD, it has a stronger association with dependence on the cannabis sativa plant than abuse. This link is not better accounted for by other psychopathology measured in this study. SAD onset prior to CUD for the majority of CUD-SAD respondents. Importantly, the co-occurrence of these two disorders appears to result in greater impairment and distress than either disorder alone.”
Medically reviewed cannabis research with informed consent from healthy subjects with anxiety and placebo group in Italy suggested that:
“The increasing prevalence rate of cannabis consumption and the recent debate on the legal status of marijuana use suggest a careful examination of risk and protective factors for problematic use of cannabis. The present study adds to the current body of knowledge on this issue, showing that social anxiety symptoms negatively associate complex cannabis involvement among young adults. Specifically, the findings show that the negative relationship between social anxiety and problematic use of cannabis is fully mediated by negative expectations about the effects of cannabis consumption. “
States with Anxiety as a Qualifying Condition
In these five states, patients with generalized social anxiety disorders qualify for a medical marijuana card with a prescription from a licensed physician.
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
Best Strains for Social Anxiety
Leafy Mate has compiled a list of the top marijuana strains that have a medical use for social anxiety disorder. The link between medical marijuana, social anxiety, and any other generalized social anxiety disorder is still being studied.
However, medical cannabis use and cbd treatment can potentially offset some of the negative effects of common mental disorders.
Jack Herer is a slightly sativa-dominant hybrid that is named after famous marijuana activist Jack Herer, who wrote The Emperor Wears No Clothes. It’s the epitome of a feel-good, mellow, energizing THC strain.
Critical Cure is an Indica-dominant cannabis strain that has a lovely balance of CBD and THC percentages at around eight percent each. It’s quick acting and long-lasting with mild psychoactive effects. This descendant of Critical Kush will be sure to relieve tension, ease muscles, and provide a sense of satisfaction. It can offset the effects of human experimental anxiety from caffeine, nicotene, and other legal substances.
Ringo’s Gift is a high CBD strain that has an average CBD-to-THC ratio of 13:1, but strains as high as 20:1 have been cultivated. Users boast relief for stress, anxiety, and insomnia among other ailments.
The Truth is a Sativa-dominant strain that has a high THC level and a one percent CBD level. Due to its’ intense cerebral high brought on by the eighteen to twenty-two percent THC, it promotes a sense of euphoria, while being energizing and motivating. This one ends with a nice, relaxing body high.
ACDC is a strain with fourteen percent CBD. It has very little THC, so there won’t be a high associated with this one. It’s a great one for morning or evening and is sure to leave you happy, relaxed, and pain free. If you are going to be public speaking, this may be just the calming, clear-headed strain to try.
Girl Scout Cookies is a high-quality Indica-dominant strain known to reduce fear and depression. High THC concentrations of up to twenty-eight percent make it a popular strain among medical users. This weed can cause intense bursts of excitement and profound calmness, helping to relieve tension and anxiety. Many people report that taking girl scout cookies in a social environment promotes laughter and good vibes.
Pound Cake also known as London Pound Cake, gets its name from its warm, fruity flavor profile. It is an Indica-dominant strain that can promote self-soothing and mindfulness. This fruity strain is excellent for a quick cure for replacing stress and anxiety with feelings of euphoria due to its extremely high THC content, which can go up to 29 percent. Pound cake will help you back to reality when feeling down.
Hawaiian Haze is produced by Botany Farms and is nearly THC free. This tropical strain will promote energy, creativity, and focus with almost 20 percent CBD. Cannabidiol CBD maintains a sense of calm without the psychoactive effects brought on by THC, making it useful in social situations.
Frisian Dew is a nearly perfect 50/50 hybrid with a low THC content. This strain is helpful in social settings because it assists in staying present and letting your creativity shine through to come up with interesting questions and keep the conversation going with others. Frisian Dew is a good option for anxiety because of its balance of Indica and Sativa.
Gelato is an Indica-dominant cannabis strain with a sweet and fruity flavor profile. It produces optimism and euphoric feelings in many of its users. Despite its mildly Indica-dominant origins, this strain shouldn’t make you drowsy. Gelato’s well-balanced high sneaks up on the user, helping ease them into the cerebral and body effects. The uplifting benefits combined with the improved sense of satisfaction and calm are just a few reasons Gelato may be perfect for easing fear, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Social anxiety disorder is not a condition to leave untreated. It can be a remarkably debilitating condition that negatively impacts many aspects of life along with your mental health. It’s not uncommon for someone with a generalized anxiety disorder to develop depression as a result of social withdrawal. In severe cases, some SAD patients have developed avoidant personality disorder and other serious mood disorders.
Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. This can lead to substance abuse disorders in severe cases without proper treatment. Some marijuana strains may be helpful as an alternative therapy for social anxiety.
For those with social anxiety disorder and considering using marijuana for the condition, we greatly recommend discussing any treatment plans with your medical provider first. Visit Leafy Mate anytime to learn more about strains and medical marijuana doctors near you.