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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Medicinal Marijuana possible replacement for long-term Xanax


 jaygiggidy - Fri Nov 13, 2009 7:15 pm

Hi, I have a couple questions regarding Anxiety/Depression/Panic disorder and medicinal marijuana. I was diagnosed with depression around age 12(1998) and tried numerous prescriptions(Paxil, Prozac, wellbutrin, Lexapro, effexor) to attempt to alleviate the depression with no relief at all. After visiting many doctors/psychiatrists without any relief I eventually gave up on medicines with undesired side-effects and began self-medicating with marijuana which seemed to drastically reduce my anxiety, and the panic attacks were almost non-existant(except for fear of getting into legal trouble.) While in college I had found myself in some legal issues(non drug-related) but was forced to take drug tests, stopping my use of marijuana. With my panic attacks coming back(primarily entering social/classroom situations) I again sought professional help for my anxiety/panic attacks. At age 18(I started college early at the age of 17.) I was diagnosed with Generalized and social anxiety, as well as panic disorder. After trying the previous drugs listed and countless others I recieved little to no relief from anything short of Xanax and have been taking that as prescribed since 2005(as in my state medicinal marijuana was non-existant.) Now it is almost 2010 and I am still on a pretty high dose of xanax daily(5mg's/day) to control my anxiety. I am worried about dependence/withdrawel symptoms if I don't take my medicine(primarily stroke/seizures) as well as how it is effecting my liver longterm and my sex drive. With recent laws in my state changing and medicinal marijuana being available to patients in need I was wondering if this was a viable option? I brought it to my psychiatrists attention and she had no advice to give me as she said she knew very little about how it has progressed. There is a clinic that will review my medical records and give me an answer as to whether I would be eligible but the fee is nearly $300 just to find out the answer. With my xanax costing me nearly $150/month alone, marijuana would be a much cheaper(and in my opinion) more effective treatment option(and was even recommended to me by a nurse who works in a county jail). In conclusion my question is would it be worth it to pursue a possible medical marijuana certificate for my disorders, or would I be wasting money that i just simply don't have? I don't want my psychiatrist to think I am "drug seeking" but I am worried about the side-effects of my current prescription and without any other medicines available that alleviate my symptoms I was wondering if the marijuana certificate is something I should give a shot? Any advice/feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time!
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:12 pm

Hello, jgiggidy,

First, I apologize for the delay in having a response to your question. Although it's probably not in time to help you, it may help others with similar questions. The quick answer is that no, medical marijuana is not likely to become accepted treatment for generalized anxiety disorders, and it's very doubtful that spending your money for an answer would be helpful to you. It's recognized that marijuana would provide a short period of mood elevation and relaxation, but with regular use, it is considered to be more addictive than medications such as Xanax, both physically and psychologically. The best treatment for your type of diagnosis would be both medication to address the severity of the symptoms, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Such combined treatment may take time, but it is the most effective to reduce the symptoms and achieve long term improvement, if not complete resolution. I wish you the best of luck!

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