Statistics released in 2018 estimated that 3.2 million Australians had an anxiety-related condition. The World Health Organisation estimates that one in three individuals globally suffer from an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental disorder in the world.
The Anxiety Landscape
The anxiety landscape is vast; anxiety disorders encapsulate a wide variety of phobias as well as specific types of anxiety. The most common anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) or social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Phobias of specific objects, animals, and situations are also categorised under anxiety disorders.
Signs of Anxiety
Considering the vast list of conditions that fall under the category of anxiety disorders, it is easy to see that the symptoms and signs of each of these anxiety disorders can drastically differ. Below is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders.
- • Nervousness
- • Restlessness
- • Increased heart rate
- • Rapid breathing
- • Trembling
- • Trouble concentrating
- • Excessive worrying
- • Agitation
- • Unexplained irritability
- • Sleep issues
- • Easily fatigued
- • Sweating
When Should You Seek Help for Anxiety?
If you or a loved one have been experiencing a combination of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it’s highly recommended you seek medical consultation. If the symptoms have been interfering with your relationships, creating persistent sleep issues, affecting your ability to concentrate and complete daily tasks, or keeping you from doing the things you enjoy, you should seek medical guidance immediately.
How Is Anxiety Diagnosed?
It may take some time to properly diagnose anxiety disorders. In order to pinpoint and provide a diagnosis, doctors will need to complete a complete physical exam to rule out any illnesses that may be causing your symptoms. Once medical professionals have ruled out any underlying medical conditions as a potential cause for your symptoms, it is likely that you will undergo one or several diagnostic tests. Some of the most common diagnostic tests utilised to provide an anxiety disorder diagnosis include the following.
- • Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale
- • Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAM-A)
- • Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)
- • Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN)
- • Penn State Worry Questionnaire
- • Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale
- • Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (YBOCS)
Each of these diagnostic tests are questionnaires and self-assessment tools that will help doctors provide a proper diagnosis. Many types of anxiety disorders have their own specific criteria that must be met in order for a diagnosis to be given.
The Endocannabinoid System & Anxiety
The body’s endogenous cannabinoid system, also known as the endocannabinoid system or ECS, has been proven to play a vital role in many of our body’s functions. When it comes to its role in regulating anxiety, it seems to be a love-hate relationship. Many anecdotal reports show that specific varieties of cannabis can help to relieve anxiety-related symptoms; however, others can accelerate them, like adding gas to a fire. Like with many plant therapies, including cannabinoid therapies, the results can drastically differ from one patient to the next. Here is what research has to say thus far.
A 2018 Australian study showed that 92 of 1,748 participants saw improvement of anxiety symptoms utilising cannabinoid therapies. In 2019, a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showed similar results, with 92% of respondents reporting improvement in their anxiety symptoms with the use of cannabinoid therapies. Additionally, in a 2007 animal-based study, researchers concluded that THC exhibited dose-dependent effects on anxiety, with the maximum anxiolytic effect corresponding to the highest dosage of THC.
Traditional Treatments for Anxiety
Standard treatments for anxiety disorders include medications and psychotherapy. Many individuals who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders work with a therapist to help reduce and manage their anxiety-related symptoms. It has been found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective at treating anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications typically come in the form of sedatives, beta-blockers, or benzodiazepines. In some circumstances, antidepressants may also be utilised to treat anxiety disorders.
Plant Therapies for Anxiety – Clinical Trial Synopsis
Currently, BOD Australia is recruiting patients with various health conditions, including anxiety, for an open-label observational study of the safety and efficiency of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis medicine for various indications. Learn more about this clinical trial or register your interest here.
To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.