USING CBD FOR ANXIETY
What is anxiety?
The statistics are scary; anxiety disorders affect 18% (40 million) of the US population.
Anxiety is simply your body’s natural response to stress; a feeling of fear of what’s to come.
An anxiety disorder takes that even further where these feelings are extreme and often have lasted for at least months and is interfering with your normal course of life.
While some situations can be considered normal causes of anxiety, including your first day of work, a new home, or a final exam in school, these cases can actually be beneficial for you if they cause to take action where you are more prepared from the upcoming situation and perform better during it.
Conversely, an anxiety disorder is where you experience the feeling of anxiety all the time, and can be quite intense and debilitating.
This type of anxiety can take away the joy from all of the simple pleasures life has to offer.
Extreme cases will even shut a person off from doing simple things such as leaving your home or going to work, or even going out to meet your own friends or family.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder and can affect literally anyone of any age.
Given its commonness, big pharmaceutical companies have come up with all kinds of drugs to deal with anxiety related disorders. These include tranquillizers and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Unfortunately, all these drugs do not respond well to most people’s actual needs and on top of that, some of them will have adverse side effects.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
We’ve all most likely faced the symptoms of anxiety to one degree or another in our lifetimes. The symptoms of anxiety can include any of the following:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble falling asleep
All people can feel different sets of symptoms so it’s important to realize when you’re facing an episode of anxiety yourself.
What is an anxiety attack?
An anxiety attack is an overwhelming episode of anxiety that can include apprehension, fear, or worry. It commonly occurs during a particularly stressful situation.
Anxiety attacks can vary greatly among individuals and symptoms can differ.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed
- Hot flashes or the chills
- Numbness or tingling
What causes anxiety?
Researchers haven’t been able to discover the real cause of anxiety, but have determined that a combination of factors do come into play.
Genetic and environmental factors play a role, as well as brain chemistry. Research looking into different parts of the brain
Does CBD work for anxiety?
It’s a popular chemical that’s extracted from the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, another equally popular chemical derived from the cannabis plant, CBD doesn’t give you a high. Instead, it’s known for its medicinal value.
For a long time, CBD has been used as a pain reliever. Most recently, researchers have found out that CBD could be used to treat a number of health conditions & diseases.
These health conditions include its ability to help treat anxiety (with relatively very little side effects).
First things first, there are many reviews from users and studies that show that CBD oil can relieve the symptoms of anxiety. However, some researchers claim that the use of marijuana can make a person vulnerable to anxiety.
It’s important to note that most researchers conduct general studies on the marijuana plant, although a few have researched widely about CBD oil as a standalone extract of the cannabis plant.
Anyone looking to use CBD as a way to relieve the symptoms of anxiety should rely on studies that cover CBD as a standalone product, instead of generalized studies on the cannabis plant. While specific studies on CBD are few and far between, the results are promising.
For instance, a 2011 study found that people who get anxious when it comes to public speaking could benefit greatly from CBD oil. In the study, one-half of the participants were given CBD oil while the other half got a placebo. When the two groups were asked to speak to an audience, those on CBD reported that their anxiety levels had decreased significantly. This was not the case for those on placebo.
Another 2010 study verified these results. In this study, people with a social anxiety disorder were given CBD. Researchers then scanned their brains to check if there were any changes to the brain function. Interestingly, they found out that there were changes in blood flow to parts of the brain that control anxiety.
Yet another study from 2014 on animals found that CBD oil was both beneficial as an anti-anxiety and an anti-depressant solution. In 2015, researchers pieced together an analysis on all the previous studies and concluded that CBD could be used as a treatment for a huge number of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety, post-traumatic stress, panic, generalized anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How CBD helps with anxiety
Several preclinical studies show that CBD triggers a number of actions in the brain.
For instance, it boosts the 5-HT1A-serotonin receptor, which increases the serotonin signals in the brain. More serotonin signals reduce anxiety in most cases. CBD works in a similar fashion as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRRIs) that drug-makers use; only that it affects serotonin faster than drugs.
Additionally, CBD has been proved to cure anxiety as it helps anxious people with regenerating neurons in a part of the brain called hippocampus. Researchers noted that the hippocampus of people with anxiety disorders was small compared to that of anyone else who doesn’t have such a disorder. They also made a startling discovery; whenever they injected CBD to such a patient, a brain scan showed that their hippocampus was growing in size (regenerating) as they healed.
Future studies on CBD and SSRIs could potentially open new avenues for treating anxiety and depression when it comes to medical professionals.
CBD vs. Xanax & Other Anti-Anxiety Medication
Benzodiazepines, also known as tranquillizers, are the most popular type of medication prescribed by medical professionals for anxiety.
Some of the most popular benzodiazepines include Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam).
Due to their fast-acting relief properties — within 30 minutes to an hour — they can be effective for serious anxiety attacks. However, they are also very physically addictive and therefore cannot be recommended for long-term use.
These medications work by slowing down the nervous system, which in turns helps you relax mentally and physically.
The side effects of these type of medications can be very severe as documented by many studies and reported by countless users. These side effects are intensified with the higher the dosage.
Even with very low doses, users report feeling foggy, sleepy, and uncoordinated, which can affect them during everyday activities.
These side effects can even last into the next day with a hangover effect.
Common side effects of benzodiazepines include, but are not limited to:
- Poor balance or coordination
- Slurred speech
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Upset stomach
- Blurred vision
The FDA has warned about serious risks of worsening pre-existing depression with recent studies showing that benzodiazepines may lead to treatment-resistant depression, in addition to cases of increased suicidal thoughts.
The FDA has even gone to issue a serious warning against the growing use of mixing benzodiazepines with opioids that have resulted in many cases of slowed or difficult breathing and deaths.
The problem of physical addiction that includes dependence and tolerance have plagued these anti-anxiety medications, with the need for using higher dosages to provide the same anti-anxiety relief as before. Users have reported these issues happening as fast as a couple of weeks.
This is clearly a very slippery slope that could cause more major damage to the user than experienced prior to using the medication.
Withdrawal symptoms can present themselves upon abruptly stopping these medications, with symptoms including:
- Increased anxiety, restlessness, shaking
- Insomnia, confusion stomach pain
- Depression, confusion, panic attacks
- Pounding heart
There are special risk factors for certain groups of people as well, including:
- People over 65
- People with a history of substance abuse
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
Given all of these serious and risky side effects, it is no surprise why so many have been recommending to others with anxiety to try CBD products to help treat their anxiety.
In relation to the popular anti-anxiety medications described above, CBD is an extremely safer option to treat anxiety-related issues, one that hasn’t directly accounted for any overdose-related deaths on its own, with very little, if any at all, side effects.
Hemp itself was descheduled as a Schedule 1 drug with the 2018 Farm Bill being passed in October 2018.
Activities, in addition to using CBD, to treat your anxiety
Exercise – Exercise can be a very powerful anxiety treatment. According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long-lasting.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most widely-used therapy for anxiety disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to control your anxiety levels, stop worrisome thoughts, and conquer your fears.
Yoga and tai chi – Yoga and tai chi are mind-body interventions that help you emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Yoga postures, known as asanas, help ease the physical discomfort that is caused by anxiety.
Mindfulness and meditation – Mindfulness is a state of mind where you learn to observe your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a present, compassionate, and non-judgmental way. Research finds it especially helpful for anxiety, even more so than other forms of meditation.
*The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.
Check out the video with author and mental health educator Douglas Bloch who shares his experience and research about how CBD is being used to treat anxiety, pain and other conditions: