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Some may still carry the attitude that cannabis use leads to a cloudy head, lack of focus, or that cannabis use is always accompanied by anxiety. While some cannabis strains may hinder focus or cause more antsy feelings, this is far from the truth.
A number of consumers navigating symptoms of anxiety and ADHD have found certain cannabis strains can help to help lessen anxious feelings and maintain focus.
There is no cure for anxiety or ADHD, though folks with either or both conditions have found ways to navigate them and improve quality of life. ADHD and anxiety are often intertwined, so the best weed strains for ADHD and anxiety can often address symptoms for both conditions.
- Research suggests that specific elements of cannabis can help to benefit symptoms related to anxiety and ADHD.
- It’s important to look at cannabinoid content and practice moderation to find a balance when treating anxiety and ADHD symptoms with cannabis.
- Strains that benefit those with anxiety may also help people with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (also called ADD or attention-deficit disorder, though the term is outdated), is a neurodevelopmental disorder.
ADHD can present as inattentiveness, meaning that it is hard for a person to stay organized or finish tasks, pay attention to details, or follow instructions. It may also manifest as hyperactive-impulsive, leading to overactivity, impulsiveness, interrupting in conversation, and trouble sitting still. People may also have a mix of symptoms.
The symptoms of ADHD can be treated through medication, like Adderall or Vyvanse, though many people with ADHD recognize they fall under the neurodivergent umbrella (as opposed to a neurotypical brain). Rather than a disorder, many neurodivergent people view ADHD and other conditions as a variance of brain function.
How Cannabis Affects ADHD
People with ADHD have more dopamine receptors that remove the hormone too rapidly, leaving those individuals to more intensely seek rewards.
Available research shows that cannabis may help with ADHD in that it boosts dopamine levels. One study found adults with ADHD who took higher doses of cannabis reported symptom improvement and reduced their dependency on ADHD medication. Research has also shown that cannabinoids like CBD and CBN and terpenes such as myrcene and beta-caryophyllene can relieve stress and help control hyperactivity or impulsive behavior.
Many people with ADHD have also reported that cannabis use can help to mitigate side effects of their current medications.
(If you have ADHD and are looking for the best strains to replace Adderall or other meds, be sure to speak with your doctor before adding cannabis to your treatment or stopping use of any prescriptions.)
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. Anxiety may be linked to a specific event or happening, though some people may feel anxious for no reason at all.
Anxiety disorders describe anxiety that doesn’t go away and may get worse over time, often interfering with daily activities like job performance, school, relationships, and more. The cause of anxiety disorders is still unknown, though factors like genetics, brain biology, stress, and environment may play a role.
Anxiety may also be a symptom that comes with other conditions, like ADHD, panic disorders, and phobias, to name a few.
How Cannabis Affects Anxiety
When it comes to anxiety, it’s important to consider the cannabinoid content. High THC levels have been shown to increase anxiety, while CBD often works to combat it. This rule isn’t absolute — the anxiety-inducing effects of THC are often more prominent in people who don’t frequently, or ever, use cannabis.
Though most of the best strains for anxiety do contain some amount of CBD. Research also suggests that a combination of CBD and THC can be helpful, as CBD can mellow out some of the anxiety-inducing effects of THC while users can still reap the benefits THC has to offer.
Best Strains for Anxiety and ADHD
The best strains for ADHD and anxiety typically include some amount of CBD, as it can help to calm the mind and body and benefit mood management. Looking at combinations of CBD and THC is also helpful, along with consuming small amounts of cannabis.
Hawaiian Haze is a sativa strain, offering energetic and euphoric effects while still keeping the mind and body at ease. The CBD in this strain can counter some of the more uppity sativa-effects, making this a great option for focus and anxiety relief. There are different iterations of this strain, with varying amounts of CBD and THC, but we suggest going for a cultivar with a balance of both cannabinoids if you have the option.
This indica-dominant hybrid often has moderate levels of THC and low levels of CBD. Zkittlez can be beneficial for folks with ADHD and anxiety because of its soothing effects. While this strain does lean indica, it’s not sleepy or sedating, often leaving users feeling inspired and uplifted, so long as they don’t overindulge.
This strain is renowned as one of the best CBD strains, offering a number of therapeutic effects. Its parent strain, Cannatonic, is another great option and gives ACDC its high-CBD, low-THC profile. It’s also an even-keeled hybrid, so users can reap the mellow effects while still enjoying a boost in productivity, concentration, and focus.
Sour Diesel is known for its uplifting, energizing, and focused effects. Many people use this strain to benefit their mental health, as it can work to lift the mood and lessen depression, and curbing anxiety-related symptoms. As Sour Diesel has fairly hefty levels of THC, you likely only need a small amount of this strain to enjoy its benefits.
Given the crosses of this strain (OG Kush, Blueberry, Sour Diesel), users can expect a perfect hybrid with a moderate amount of THC. Sour OG ushers in a sense of peace and happiness while also offering enhanced energy and creativity. It’s often a somewhat short-lived high, though this can also work to users’ benefit, dosing a little at a time to reach an optimal state of mind.
While we’re still uncovering the specifics surrounding these conditions and how cannabis can benefit them, many people are already using cannabis to improve their quality of life and manage symptoms related to ADHD and anxiety.
With an intentional approach, you may soon be among them!
Hergenrather, J. Y., Aviram, J., Vysotski, Y., Campisi-Pinto, S., Lewitus, G. M., & Meiri, D. (2020). Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Doses are Associated with Adult ADHD Status of Medical Cannabis Patients. Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.5041/RMMJ.10384
Hudson, R., Renard, J., Norris, C., Rushlow, W. J., & Laviolette, S. R. (2019). Cannabidiol Counteracts the Psychotropic Side-Effects of Δ-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in the Ventral Hippocampus through Bidirectional Control of ERK1–2 Phosphorylation. The Journal of Neuroscience, 39(44), 8762–8777. https://doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.0708-19.2019
Sharpe, L., Sinclair, J., Kramer, A., de Manincor, M., & Sarris, J. (2020). Cannabis, a cause for anxiety? A critical appraisal of the anxiogenic and anxiolytic properties. Journal of Translational Medicine, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-020-02518-2
Stueber, A., & Cuttler, C. (2021). Self-Reported Effects of Cannabis on ADHD Symptoms, ADHD Medication Side Effects, and ADHD-Related Executive Dysfunction. Journal of Attention Disorders, 26(6), 108705472110509. https://doi.org/10.1177/10870547211050949