If you suffer from anxiety and are curious if cannabis will help you keep those feelings under control, the answer is...maybe? Right now it's irresponsible to believe that marijuana either completely cures or causes anxiety because everyone experiences cannabis differently and there isn't enough scientific evidence to conclusively state whether cannabis (or certain strains, as there are currently thousands) can ease anxiety on a universal level. But don't despair; as marijuana prohibition wanes, researchers have shown they are eager to explore how cannabis affects those suffering from anxiety and if it's a good treatment option.
First, let's address the difference between being anxious about something and suffering from a chronic anxiety disorder. The American Psychology Association calls anxiety "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure." With this definition, we can all admit to having been anxious about something at some time, and this subjectivity of when and why each of us gets anxious is part of why we can't say for sure if marijuana is good for anxiety. Cannabis may quell anxious feelings brought on by a situation or stimuli in some people while exacerbating those same feelings in others.
The APA goes on to say that "people with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat." These extreme feelings are what help identify patients suffering from legitimate anxiety disorders, and science is starting to show exactly how cannabis affects our bodies to deal with anxious feelings.
A 2014 article published in the scientific journal Neuron tells us how an international research team led by Vanderbilt University discovered receptors for cannabinoids (the active chemical compounds unique to marijuana) in the amygdala area of brains of mice. This is significant as it is this area of the brain that regulates the "fight-or-flight" response in animals, as well as anxiety and other emotions, and researchers also observed how this part of the brain creates and releases its own "endocannabinoids." These findings encourage further research into exactly how our brains process cannabis (and more importantly the more than 100 known cannabinoids found in marijuana) to regulate anxiety, as well as any long-term effects.
As it stands, the relationship between cannabis and anxiety remains a complex subject that science is just starting to understand. To further complicate things, cannabis may affect you differently at various stages of your life (depending on your mental and physical state as well as external factors) and some argue that marijuana not only worsens anxiety in some people but that it can cause anxiety on its own. So, even if your doctor prescribes cannabis to help calm your anxiety, right now the only way to know is to try it for yourself.