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CBD vs THC For Anxiety: Which Is Best and Why?

Dale blog imageAuthor: Dale Hewett
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Table of Contents (Scrollable)

Life throws us curveballs all the time – this is nothing new. There can be many ups and downs during a person’s lifetime, and even the calmest person may not be able to manage anxiety properly. People tend to take certain medications to help treat anxiety or even try an alternative form of medication like CBD products or medical cannabis as an effective treatment for anxiety-related disorders. For this reason, the discussion of using CBD vs THC for anxiety comes up, and it comes up a lot.

Let’s explore which cannabinoid is best suited to manage anxiety. We’ll also explore at the pros and cons of using CBD vs THC for anxiety and depression, the key differences between the two, and how they affect a person’s ability to deal with stress and anxiety. First, let’s look at the leading causes of anxiety disorders.

TL;DR – Both are effective at helping anxiety. If you want to feel a sensation of being high, stick with THC to help your anxiety. If you want a non-intoxicating way to help your anxiety, stick with CBD. It’s our opinion that CBD is better than THC for helping with anxiety, because you will not get high – which could agitate your anxiety levels even more.

In order to help out anxiety, we first need to discuss exactly what it is, and why people experience it.

What Causes Anxiety?

It’s not a simple answer. Many things can cause what’s known as a generalized anxiety disorder for many people for many different reasons. However, one thing remains consistent at every level; anxiety can be challenging to deal with, and people who suffer from it will do almost anything to relieve anxiety.

Anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder can be debilitating. It can also create several physical health problems like muscle tension, headaches, increased heart rate, and many mental health conditions.

Before we dig deep into the worlds of CBD and THC for anxiety, let’s discuss a few of the main reasons why people feel anxious.

Related: How Much CBD Oil Do I Need For Anxiety?

Human neurophysiology has been studied greatly over the last few decades, and it is clear that there are ways to help the symptoms of anxiety disorders. While some prefer to use a prescription medication, others explore using medical cannabis. But what about THC and CBD? What is the difference between the two for helping treat anxiety disorders?

Psychological Anxiety Disorders

When it comes to dealing with increased anxiety, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health issues brought on by varying levels of anxiety, a few psychological factors come into play.

Here are the main factors:

  • Your genetics
  • If you have experienced any trauma
  • Holding onto or the build-up of stress over a while
  • If you are experiencing more than one health problem at the same time. Like having heart disease with diabetes
  • Dealing with an illness or struggling with physical conditions like chronic pain or cancer-related symptoms

A person may be dealing with any number of these conditions, but the main reason a person experiences an anxious moment is their memories. If a person has experienced any form of trauma from people or situations of their past, it can manifest into anxiety disorders like stress, depression, or even panic disorders.

Cbd Vs Thc For Anxiety

Related: Edibles for Anxiety Relief

It can be quite rough. And that is an understatement.

Attempting to get through these memories and the anxiety it causes may take a lifetime of work to process the events and deal with them. It may involve using conventional medical treatment such as anti-anxiety drugs or pain medications or require medical marijuana as a potential treatment.

In today’s high-paced world, a person deals with anxiety right along with the daily stresses of life.

Depression And Anxiety

It can be manageable for some, but for many, they will seek a professional who can help them deal with the anxiety. In some cases, CBD oil or medicinal cannabis may be prescribed for medical purposes to treat the symptoms of anxiety.

Bodily Chemical Causes of Anxiety

Anxiety is caused by the brain’s neurotransmitters experiencing an imbalance of sorts on a chemical level. These can be inherent chemical disharmonies, or they may develop over some time as you cope with certain experiences.

Some of the more common neurotransmitters that have a direct link to anxious responders are:

  • Dopamine

  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

  • Serotonin

  • Norepinephrine

Dopamine, GABA, and Serotonin

Dopamine, GABA, and serotonin imbalances can make your neurochemistry more vulnerable to responding anxiously. But, the main biochemical trigger for many of the physiological symptoms of anxiety is norepinephrine.


Norepinephrine (more commonly known as adrenaline) triggers the body’s “fight or flight” responses. These responses lead to an increased heart rate, panic, sweating, and other common anxiety symptoms.

Ever known someone with a social anxiety disorder? Public speaking, being in large crowds, or even stage freight are all forms of a generalized social anxiety disorder. This increase of heart rate and panic attacks are what they feel in certain social environments.

CBD oil may aid those who struggle with this form of anxiety, but we’ll touch more on this later.

Using CBD vs THC For Anxiety

Both compounds have been shown to help people cope with their generalized anxiety disorder, according to thousands of customers reviews. There are two major differences between the two cannabinoids, though:
  1. THC is intoxicating, and can cause paranoia which worsens anxiety
  2. CBD is legal, while THC is not

Should you live in one of the handful of states that legalized THC for recreational use, you can legally use it for treating anxiety you may have.

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Even then, a vast majority of people choose CBD over THC to help with their anxiety levels because it doesn’t get you high. This is the major difference between CBD vs THC for anxiety and depression. If you have high anxiety levels, chances are that getting high will only worsen things.

If you’ve ever been high and felt your mind start to race, and become extremely paranoid – you know what I’m talking about.

Are Both CBD and THC Legal?

THC is one of the main cannabinoids found in the cannabis Sativa plant (or hemp plant) that provides psychoactive effects to the user. Both CBD and THC are found in cannabis.

Hemp-derived CBD products have been removed from the controlled substances act since the federal government passed the 2018 Farm Bill. This means, under federal law, that a CBD product can contain CBD and THC, but the amount of THC must be 0.3% or less for it to be legal.
Thc Vs Cbd Chart

One thing to note is that even though the cannabis Sativa plant has growing legalization on a federal level, state laws vary from state to state. While some state laws allow the growing, cultivating, harvesting, selling, and buying of medical cannabis, other states still consider the cannabis Sativa plant illegal.

Check your local state’s CBD laws before you purchase medical cannabis products.

Does THC Help With Anxiety?

This depends on a few factors. The first thing to consider is how much THC is consumed. According to peer-reviewed studies at the University of Washington, different doses of THC have differing effects. A low dose of THC seems to lower anxiety, while a higher dose increases it.

Study participants were given a low dose of THC (7.5mg). They experience a reduction in anxiety levels using a popular psychological stress test.

However, those same study participants were given higher doses of THC (12.5mg), and an increased level of anxiety occurred.

Cbd Vs Thc

Research suggests that a gram of marijuana contains 20% THC (200 mg of the cannabinoid), but to get to the proper dosage for treating anxiety, they needed to drop the THC amount down to 1/26th of a gram. This amount is equal to a tiny puff.

It has been shown that ingesting high doses of THC may create adverse effects. Rather than calming, it could create even more anxiety in the user. It is recommended that a person take much less THC to reduce anxiety.

This is the basis of most CBD products.

If you’re worried about taking a CBD product with THC in it and drug tests, don’t worry. The small amount of THC in a full-spectrum CBD product will not show up on most standard drug tests. If this is a concern, stick to a CBD isolate product containing zero THC.

CBD oils labeled as CBD isolate contain only CBD – nothing else.

THC for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD diagnoses have increased significantly over the last 30 years. This is largely due to a de-stigmatization of PTSD, and a better understand of what, exactly, it is. PTSD, after all, is nothing new.

As far as using THC for PTSD goes, some people find it useful, while others simply do not. The main issue is that THC will get you high. This can actually cause some anxiety symptoms associated with PTSD to get much worse.

Stick to CBD for PTSD if you do not enjoy being high. CBD interacts with similar receptors that THC does, but it will not get you high.

Does CBD Help With Anxiety Symptoms?

Living with a generalized anxiety disorder can be absolutely miserable. The good news is, many customers report they love using CBD to relieve anxiety, because it calms them without getting them high. There are also several studies that back up the fact that cannabidiol helps manage stress and offer significant anxiety relief.

People can tolerate CBD products much better than they do THC products, too. Cannabidiol (CBD) does not produce a “high feeling” in the user. Instead, those who choose to take CBD do so for the therapeutic benefits they feel – without having to deal with feelings of being high, or paranoia.

Getting high can really make anxiety symptoms worse for some users. For this reason, we recommend CBD for anxiety over THC. Using CBD for anxiety will not cause any paranoia or excess anxiety because it will not get you high.

Side Effects and Safety of Taking CBD

This area is, perhaps, why nonprescription CBD products have so much potential. Researchers found very few adverse effects from taking CBD oil products. From a low CBD dosage to a CBD dose as high as 1,500mg, it has been shown by the World Health Organization that CBD is safe for humans to take.

However, THC and CBD are vastly different in this department. CBD products are made from organic hemp, which contains less than 0.3% of THC. This is a minute amount of THC.

High doses of THC found in marijuana, on the other hand, have been shown to negatively affect the user, even those who take marijuana for recreational purposes.

Even though scientists have mixed results on testing the effectiveness of CBD to treat anxiety, a systematic review of CBD studies has been found that CBD does not have the potential to increase anxiety symptoms. And any claims made by companies are not FDA approved. So, buyers of CBD should be aware and do their own research regarding the products they will be buying.

CBD Vapes for Anxiety vs THC Vapes

It all comes down to what works best for you, AND, if you want to get high or not. Remember, THC is highly intoxicating. It has a strong affinity for the CB1 receptor, so when you ingest THC it will get you very high.

Some people like this, some dont.

If you don’t want to get high, CBD vapes instead of THC vapes, may be a far better option. Some studies even show CBD works better than THC for anxiety because consuming CBD doesn’t cause paranoia like THC can.

Confused on what to buy? Check out our CBD starter kit. This kit comes with several different forms of CBD products. You can see which type you like best. Maybe you like them all, maybe you prefer a balm, or a CBD tincture. With this kit, there is no guessing. You get it all.

CBD Gummies for Anxiety

Of all the CBD products on the marketplace, CBD gummies may be the most popular. If they aren’t, they are a close second to CBD oil tinctures.

Using CBD gummies for anxiety, as reported by thousands of user testimonials, seems to do an outstanding job at helping people better manage their anxiety. This allows them to get on with their day to day life much more effectively.

Why CBD is Better Than THC for Anxiety and Depression

Unlike THC, CBD is much different when it comes to adverse effects. CBD is highly preferred for depression and anxiety, over THC. There are several drawbacks to taking THC, which is a psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis. Although THC’s intoxicating effects may mask the feelings of anxiety for some, most people find it makes their symptoms worse.

Those who take THC for anxiety symptoms or depression can quickly become tolerant to THC. This means that the user may feel the need to take higher concentrations each time to feel the effects.

Taking cannabis could lead to drug dependence.

Drug dependencies and tolerances are common with most psychoactive substances. This can result in a very dangerous drug addiction since these substances are highly addictive. Prolonged use of cannabis containing high levels of THC can create a variety of mental health changes.

Chronic users of cannabis tend to have mood swings, irritability, and aggressive behavior that seems to worsen as the addiction sets in. Another affected factor is the individual’s ability to think clearly, and cognitive impairment sets in.

The user will convince themselves that they need to continue to take THC to try and combat their anxiety. Many users claim that recreational use of cannabis isn’t as bad as drugs like Xanax or other pharmaceuticals. However, prolonged use of cannabis cannot be considered a safe alternative.

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As always, talk to your doctor to see if taking cannabis is suitable for you. Never use cannabis as an alternative to prescribed medications from your doctor. While taking CBD oil for anxiety can be a game changer, you should never automatically replace medications without first consulting your healthcare provide.

Do your research on all of the products you are interested in taking to help combat your anxiety and depression.

Use CBD to Help Manage Panic Attacks

CBD is considered to be better than THC for panic attacks because it has a different mechanism of action in the brain. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that can cause feelings of paranoia or anxiety, especially in high doses. In contrast, CBD does not produce a high and may actually counteract the anxiety-inducing effects of THC. This is why CBD is better for panic attacks.

CBD has been found to have anxiolytic, or anxiety-reducing, properties, which may make it a suitable option for individuals with panic attacks. Additionally, CBD has a relatively low risk of side effects, compared to THC, which can cause impairment and cognitive difficulties.

Different Spectrums and Their Effect on Anxiety


full-spectrum CBD product has the highest legal THC level of all the forms, but not enough to get you high.

Cbd Flower

These products will contain all the plant offers – cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and no more than 0.3% THC. Most full spectrum products have about 0.1%, or so, THC levels. Regardless, this is no where near enough THC to get you high. 

Don’t worry about that. A full spectrum will do well at helping your anxiety levels.

Broad-spectrum CBD Oil

broad-spectrum CBD product is very similar to a full-spectrum product in that it contains all of the terpenes, flavonoids, and THC. Broad spectrum products can be counted on to help manage anxiety.

However, the difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum is that a broad-spectrum CBD oil for anxiety has only a trace amount of THC. Again, you will not get high from this spectrum.

Generally speaking, people think the best CBD oil is either a broad or full spectrum because of all the additional beneficial plant compounds in them.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate contains only CBD. There are no terpenes, flavonoids, or THC, just CBD. It looks like a fine white powder in its raw form.

CBD Dosage for Anxiety Relief

When it comes to proper CBD doses, keep in mind that CBD interacts with some people differently than others.

There is no official stance by the FDA that mentions CBD doses, either. This is because CBD isn’t approved for use by the FDA, yet.

Check out our CBD dosage guide and calculator to see a great breakdown of different CBD doses.

An isolate will be hit or miss for you. Many people prefer a broad or full spectrum CBD, which is why the isolate items are a dying breed these days. When CBD first came out, the isolate was popular, but this is no longer the case.

Cbd Isolate Powder

Delta 8 THC vs CBD For Anxiety

Delta 8 is another form of THC that has very, very similar effects to smoking marijuana. The only real differences is the high doesn’t last as long.

When comparing delta 8 vs CBD for anxiety treatment, we tend to vote for CBD over delta 8 for the same reasons already mentioned in this article. After all, delta 8 is almost identical to delta 9 THC, which is what most people identify THC as.

Summary – Is CBD or THC Better for Treating Anxiety?

When it comes to cannabis and the cannabinoids THC and CBD, THC should be used to treat anxiety under extreme caution. In some users, it can create substance abuse issues and only temporarily inhibit anxiety symptoms. This is very counter intuitive if you struggle with a generalized anxiety disorder.

On the other hand, CBD is still being researched as a possible way to treat anxiety. It shows great potential with animal studies, but not enough human studies have been done to give CBD any definitive credit as a possible treatment for anxiety.

Even though thousands upon thousands of user reviews claim that taking CBD oils helps their anxiety, the FDA still hasn’t approved CBD for use to treat anxiety. I’m confident this will change in the near future.

This also means there are no definitive CBD doses issued to treat anxiety. Using CBD for anxiety is basically a trial and error approach for most people.

With more research and great CBD products available on the market, CBD oils could be a household name when used to help those with anxiety. For more information on great CBD products that are third-party lab-tested and use only organic natural ingredients, talk to us at New Phase Blends. We’re here to help!


Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research: