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CBD and Anxiety: Research, Benefits, and Help

Many people suffering from mood disorders are looking for alternatives to conventional medications and their unwanted side effects. CBD may provide a solution. Anxiety, depression, and stress are often lumped together, but each condition has different symptoms that require unique solutions.

Depression and anxiety are severe but are both treatable illnesses, and many people are diagnosed with a combination of both. In this article, we focus on anxiety and how CBD can compliment a plan to restore the body and mind to positive health.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a future-oriented emotion, marked by negative anticipation of upcoming events. While others may describe this as fear, anxiety, and fear are different: fear is an emotional response to a real or perceived imminent threat.

Fight or flight is an adaptive response that can protect us and those we love from physical danger. However, when suffering from anxiety, fears about danger are out of proportion with reality.

Anxiety is among the most common mental health disorders in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults ages 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population each year according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old. While highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive adequate treatment (ADAA).

Anxiety Symptoms

Let’s take a look at how anxiety manifests in our bodies. It’s a condition that includes diagnoses of OCD, PTSD, panic disorder, and phobias. People with anxiety often suffer from a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Fear, panic, or anxiety in situations where other people do not feel anxious, afraid, or threatened
  • Constant nagging worry
  • Sudden panic or anxiety without a clear trigger
  • Intense, persistent fear and worry in everyday situations
  • Fear can reach a peak quickly resulting in a panic attack
  • Sense of impending danger or doom
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
  • Having difficulty controlling worry

Studies on CBD and Anxiety

Studies show CBD may have anti-anxiety properties. In one study, CBD reduced the fight or flight response and other fear-based responses in both mice and humans in clinical trials. Researchers looked at how the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in the human body works. The ECS helps the body maintain balance with cannabinoid receptors that are present in the parts of the brain that controls emotional behavior, mood, stress, and fear.

Studies of mice demonstrate that when the Cannabinoid receptors are activated with a dose of CBD panic, anxiety, and fight or flight are reduced. This study also showed that the response was dose-dependent. A lower dose reduced stress, anxiety, and panic while higher doses may promote those feelings. This is a reason we caution customers to start with the smallest dose to find their sweet spot with CBD.

Studies show the impact of CBD on the ECS and the nervous system help PTSD patients manage symptoms including re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal. PTSD patients saw a 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms when they were using cannabis compared to when they were not.

In people suffering from anxiety, brain scans show their hippocampus is smaller and makes fewer new neurons. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and cognition. A study of mice found CBD may help the hippocampus regenerate neurons, which could be useful for treating anxiety or depression in the same way SSRIs do.

A study published in the journal Pharmaceuticals suggests that orally administered CBD  may exert a therapeutic effect for social anxiety disorder, insomnia, and epilepsy, but also that it may cause mental sedation. Again, another good reason to start with a small dose to find the best for your body.

A study published in Neurotherapeutics found evidence that strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.

CBD, Medications, and Anxiety

Drug companies created medications that target the body’s serotonin system. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which increases the availability of serotonin. More serotonin signals can reduce anxiety and increase positive feelings in some cases. A Spanish study found CBD may also boost signaling through serotonin receptors. Researchers noted that CBD acts quickly to provide an anti-anxiety effect in contrast to SSRIs which take time to take effect.

With these drugs come a host of side effects including nausea, headaches, memory issues, reduced sex drive, sleep issues, weight issues, and other uncomfortable effects. Moreover, the drugs do not work for everyone and benzodiazepines are addictive. This is why CBD has grown as a possible tool for people with anxiety disorders – with support from many studies, although more research on CBD and its impact on anxiety could be helpful!

Luckily, we live in a time where reaching out for help is becoming more and more accepted and recommended! If you need someone to talk to, Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis, connecting people in crisis to trained Crisis Counselors. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

It’s okay to not be okay.

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