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Understanding Anxiety: Symptoms, Triggers, and Traditional Treatments

If symptoms of anxiety keep you from living a peaceful, balanced life, you’re not alone—over 40 million American adults live with an anxiety disorder.

At TeleLeaf, we understand how difficult it can be to find answers and relief on your healing journey. That’s why we’re breaking down everything you need to know about anxiety, its triggers, and effective management strategies that could transform your life.

We’ll also touch on how using cannabis for anxiety can help you unpack the past, ground yourself in the present, and pave the way for future healing.

Anxiety: Unprocessed Fears and Other Factors

If you’ve spent any time searching for relief from anxiety using modern medical treatments, you’ve likely discovered an unspoken truth about conventional mental health services: not all providers are interested in the root cause of your anxiety.

While learning to live with the symptoms of anxiety is certainly useful, finding out how and why anxiety manifests in your body is even more empowering. In other words, management is great, but recovery is better.

There are a multitude of reasons why you might experience anxiety:

  • Past traumatic experiences – Whether you had harrowing experiences in combat, survived abuse, or endured a frightening life event, your past has a strong potential to impact your present and future.
  • Ongoing medical issues – If you have trouble sleeping, live with a chronic illness, or have a disability, for instance, you may experience anxiety, as well.
  • Brain chemistry and other physiological factors – Scientists are still unpacking how compounds interact in our brains to influence our everyday emotions and our responses to stress. Even if you believe that your anxiety is only a product of your brain chemistry, these (potentially misunderstood) issues manifest as real-life challenges.

Perhaps you can attribute your anxiety to one of the above—or none of these. Regardless, addressing potential root causes (rather than just reactively managing your symptoms) is the key to moving forward. When we can recover from anxiety, we can reduce the intensity of our symptoms long-term.

An Introduction to Anxiety Triggers

Understanding your anxiety triggers can be a powerful step on the way to finding the root cause(s) of your anxiety. Here’s a taste of what the recovery process can look like when you examine your triggers:

  1. Whenever you experience intense anxiety symptoms, you pause and commit time to productively sitting with your feelings. Think about how you’re feeling, where those feelings are coming from in your body, and what might have triggered those feelings.
  2. Once you identify triggers, you can unpack them. Ask yourself questions like, “Why does seeing/hearing/feeling/doing [trigger] make me feel this way?” to dig deeper into your subconscious or unconscious thoughts and assumptions.
  3. With a clearer picture of how triggers connect to past experiences, internalized fears, or other elements of reality, you can start to work through these elements—the root causes of your anxiety symptoms.

Triggers are highly personal, but some common triggers include:

  • Sensory experiences (sounds, smells, textures, or visuals)
  • Unpleasant memories and things that evoke them (like photographs or stories)
  • Physical states (illness, exhaustion, or arousal, for instance)
  • Uncomfortable situations (where you feel isolated, out of control, or powerless, perhaps)

If you’re new to this approach to anxiety recovery, there are a few ways you can record and track your triggers to try to identify patterns: journaling, talking with a confidante, recording your stream-of-consciousness speech, and other tactics can help you parse potential triggers on your journey.

Anxiety and the Healing Potential of Cannabis

Can marijuana help with anxiety? For many people, the answer is yes.

We understand a cautious approach to using cannabis for mental health recovery—we’ve been there ourselves. But medical marijuana can support every step in the recovery process outlined above:

  1. Slowing down and processing feelings – During an anxiety attack or intense symptoms, your thoughts might be moving too quickly or chaotically for you to thoroughly identify and process them. Marijuana can be especially helpful in the moment: its calming effects can help you slow and organize racing thoughts and soothe physical symptoms like jitters, fast heart rate, and heavy breathing.
  2. Unpacking triggers – In a more relaxed state, you can devote mental energy to unpacking the emotions, physical symptoms, and potential triggers that caused your intense symptoms. Marijuana can help you get to and stay in that relaxed state: it helps you find space and time for deeper questioning and self-discovery.
  3. Processing the past – Discovering a connection between a trigger and a past experience or state of being can be powerful—and highly emotional. When we uncover the truth about ourselves, intense emotional responses to such discoveries are normal. But these emotional responses can also derail further questioning or distract us in the moment. Marijuana can help us slow down, acknowledge and feel these emotions, and keep moving forward as we unpack the root causes of our anxiety.

It’s important to keep in mind that the process above isn’t a half-hour investment that will solve your anxiety for good—one joint might be life-changing, but it won’t undo years of struggle.

Recovery takes time.

However, marijuana can help us round out the sharp edges of triggering experiences so that we can find the balanced state that we need to be in to heal. Put simply, medical marijuana is a tool that can help us build a stable foundation for self-reflection.

Anxiety Treatment: Modern Medicine vs. Holistic Approaches

While there are many different approaches to anxiety management and recovery, two general treatment options dominate modern medicine today:

  1. Pharmaceuticals – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and other medications are commonly used to either quell the symptoms of short-term anxiety attacks or alter brain chemistry to (ideally) provide long-term relief from anxiety symptoms. But these medications are far from perfect. For many patients, they cause intense side effects (like appetite changes or sexual dysfunction), or they simply don’t work. Most importantly, they don’t fix the root cause of anxiety. While they might make you feel calmer, pharmaceuticals are typically a management tool rather than a recovery tool.
  2. Therapeutic modalities – Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), action and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other therapeutic methods can be highly useful for people with anxiety and other mental health challenges. Talking through your symptoms with a healthcare professional can certainly help you move through the steps on a recovery journey. However, these professionals aren’t always available for in-the-moment processing—and, if you can’t return to a calm state during an anxiety attack, it can be difficult to employ the processing and management tools you learn in therapy.

Prescription medications and therapeutic tactics are often used in tandem—but not all patients take this route. And, like all medical treatments, therapy and pharmaceuticals have limitations.

This is where medical marijuana can be especially powerful: where pharmaceuticals and therapy fall behind, marijuana can fill in the gaps to help patients build a solid foundation for recovery, not just management:

  • Marijuana is all-natural and plant-based – While some pharmaceuticals are made from plant-derived ingredients, they’re far from “all natural.” If you prefer a plant-based lifestyle or want to be intentional about the man-made compounds you do consume, marijuana can offer a naturally-derived alternative to manufactured formulas.
  • Side effects are minimal – While pharmaceuticals and side effects are typically a package deal, marijuana doesn’t have the same side effect profile as most mental health medications. Marijuana might make you feel drowsy or hungry, yes—but you can also tweak your dosing and cannabinoid combinations very carefully to minimize side effects and consistently produce the results you’re looking for. This kind of customization and side effect prevention isn’t usually an option in pharmaceutical treatments.
  • You can use it in combination with modern medical approaches – Have you made progress in CBT? Medical marijuana can support continued growth in a therapy setting. Want to continue your course of SSRIs for management until you can fully unpack root causes with intentional marijuana use? While you should tell your prescribing physician about any medications you’re taking (marijuana included), this is likely an option. Marijuana can be used as a complement treatment or a standalone method.

Marijuana isn’t a cure-all for anxiety. But where pharmaceuticals and therapy fall short, medical cannabis can pick up the slack (or even outperform other tactics in some patients).

Proactive Healing with Medical Cannabis

Since marijuana can offer a path to recovery (which will reduce your everyday management demands), it can be more of a proactive treatment than a reactive treatment.

That could look like:

  • Setting aside intentional time to reflect while using marijuana
  • Using cannabis to prevent anxiety-related symptoms like trouble sleeping
  • Finding a dose that supports everyday balance and inner peace

While it can take time to find a dose, administration method, and cannabinoid formula that’s perfect for your journey, medical marijuana offers individualized, plant-based relief for people looking for long-term recovery from anxiety.

TeleLeaf: Where the Patient is the Textbook

When it comes to anxiety management, a holistic, well-rounded approach can be key to maintaining daily peace of mind and balance. But recovery requires time and dedication—and often alternative tools, like medical cannabis.

If you’re looking to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice about medical marijuana, TeleLeaf is here to help.

Our mission is simple: to connect people with the effective, safe, and well-rounded recovery they deserve. Whether you’re on the fence about medical cannabis or you’re looking to get started, our team is ready to give you the resources you need to thrive.

In anxiety recovery, you are the textbook, and TeleLeaf can help you find the answers, healing, and recovery within. Connect with us to get started.


Sources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness. Anxiety Disorders.

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Mental Health of People with Disabilities.

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/features/mental-health-for-all.html

Medical News Today. Everything You Need to Know About Anxiety Medications.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323666#types-of-anxiety-medication

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