CBD Oil for Anxiety

Anxiety is more common than we think. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, the estimated prevalence of mental disorders in the European region in 2015 was 110 million people, equivalent to 12% of the total population, while the cost of mood disorders and anxiety in the EU is approximately €170 billion per year.

The global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us ever closer to understanding many psychiatric disorders and the value of mental health. As a result, awareness of mental health issues and their impact on everyday life is rising, especially in Europe.

Unfortunately, generalised anxiety is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health problems, but what’s even sadder is that many people choose not to deal with it. By ignoring the issue, they ultimately only end up making their condition worse.

In the wake of these challenging events and discoveries, scientists around the world have been researching innovative techniques and products that can treat anxiety or make the process of dealing with it more manageable. Even countries with fairly strict CBD and cannabis laws, such as France, have launched their first medical marijuana trials that had been delayed for a long time in the past. It’s no wonder that many medical professionals believe in CBD’s potential to help with a number of psychological disorders, as this compound directly interacts with our body’s essential receptors.

In this article, we will talk about anxiety, its different forms, and its effects. We will also take a closer look at how CBD oil might contribute to the healing process and restore a person’s quality of life that has been disrupted by an anxiety disorder.

1. Normal anxiety vs. anxiety disorders

The difficulty in fully understanding anxiety may stem from the inability of many people to differentiate between an anxiety disorder and normal anxiety.

Normal anxiety is a natural sensation that people experience when they are in stressful situations. Let’s say you have decided to go on a solo trip to a foreign country whose language you don’t speak. Suddenly, something truly unfortunate happens to you on the way to the hotel. You get robbed. You have lost your money and phone and you have no idea what to do.

This situation will probably make you feel quite anxious, unless you’re a very experienced solo traveller. But this anxious feeling is a completely normal protective reaction of our bodies. It will make you start thinking about what you can do or start looking for someone to turn to for help. This anxiety response can also give us a useful push to meet a work deadline or pass an exam. It is intended to help you keep yourself safe and alert.

But if you’re feeling anxious in normal life situations like meeting friends or visiting a grocery store, or if the anxiety doesn’t go away even after the stressful situation is over, you may have an anxiety disorder. Here are some of the most common existing anxiety disorders that you should be aware of.

2. GAD (generalised anxiety disorder)

GAD or generalised anxiety disorder is associated with anxiety about everyday things like family, work, money and relationships. It is characterised as being excessive, persistent and unreasonable. The person experiencing GAD may be aware of it, but their symptoms are beyond their control. Other symptoms of GAD include edginess, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability and feeling like the mind is blank. GAD’s physical manifestations include difficulty sleeping (leading to chronic fatigue), digestive problems, muscle aches and soreness.

3. SAD (social anxiety disorder)

Social anxiety disorder, or SAD for short, is a disorder formerly known as social phobia. It is similar to a phobia in the sense that the fear of a situation becomes so intense that it seems impossible for a person to take part in it. Social anxiety means that a person has a tendency to engage in social situations in which they may experience feelings of shame and discomfort. A person may have characteristic thoughts, and in some cases, the anxiety can manifest physically, such as tremors, redness, heart palpitations or a dry mouth. It may also feel like one is on the verge of fainting or losing control of oneself.

4. PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is characterised by recurrent obsessive memories of a shocking, traumatic event that begin up to six months after the event and persist for less than a month. The pathophysiology of the disorder is not fully understood. Symptoms include avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event, nightmares and memories. Diagnosis is made based on the individual’s history.

5. Panic disorder

Panic disorder is characterised by intense fear that something bad will happen. Symptoms of this disorder include palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, sweating, trembling, nausea, chills, numbness, feeling of choking, feeling detached from oneself, fear of losing control and fear of death. Some of these symptoms can occur together and may last anywhere from 5-15 minutes to several hours. Panic attacks are unpredictable and increase the anxiety of having the next panic attack.

6. OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)

OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that involves repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviours (compulsions). Symptoms of OCD include repetitive activities such as cleaning, washing, repeating, checking, ordering and arranging, and mental rituals that are often performed in the hopes of preventing other symptoms – obsessive thoughts (germs, something bad will happen, fear of hurting someone, order reduces anxiety and neutralising intrusive thoughts) – or making them go away. Repetitive activities and obsessive thoughts can occur on their own or together. However, performing them brings only temporary relief, and not doing them markedly increases anxiety.

7. Treating anxiety disorders: Can CBD oil help?

There are two main methods of treating anxiety disorders: psychotherapy (cognitive behavioural therapy, watchful waiting, personal or group therapy) and medication (benzodiazepines, antidepressants, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, antianxiety and antiseizure medications). Treatment methods depend on a specific case and anxiety disorder a person has. While they may seem effective, they are not without flaws for the following reasons:

  • they can be addictive with long-term use;
  • they have sedative effects, can cause dizziness, and impact a person’s daily life and task performance;
  • they work differently from person to person.

In contrast to traditional antianxiety drugs, according to the WHO’s CBD Critical Review Report 2018, the cannabis compound that was studied is non-addictive as well as non-euphoric. In addition, there were no case reports of abuse or dependence related to its use.

Importantly, CBD oil is not able to treat anxiety. If a seller claims that CBD can cure or treat anxiety, you should be wary of them. CBD cannot be sold or promoted as a medicine because there isn’t enough research to support its effectiveness in treating particular diseases or to fully describe the chemical interactions of CBD and the body’s endocannabinoid system. Many mysteries surrounding CBD compounds have yet to be unravelled. What we can say is that CBD may improve general calmness and balance, promote restful sleep, and help to combat some of the major anxiety symptoms.

8. Research overview

Antianxiety drugs, or anxiolytics, also target our messengers and receptors in the brain. This allows the drugs’ active components to reduce excessive excitability. They work quite quickly but should only be prescribed for short-term use as they have been found to be habit-forming. Moreover, long-term use of antianxiety drugs can worsen their side effects and significantly reduce quality of life and people’s ability to perform daily tasks effectively.

According to this research, the results of human studies may substantiate the antianxiety properties of CBD. The findings may also demonstrate CBD’s minimal sedative effects and a decent safety profile. However, the authors note that further studies on chronic CBD dosing are needed to determine whether the effects remain as potent compared to acute dosing.

A more recent study examined the potential of CBD in treating anxiety and sleep disorders within the 18-72 age group. The majority of patients experienced improvements in both anxiety and sleep throughout the three-month study period. However, CBD was reported to be more effective for anxiety problems than for sleep disorders. Many patients appreciated the opportunity to replace their original medication regimen with something natural.

Another study focused on the potential effects of CBD on teenagers with SAD. The results were consistent with previous research findings and demonstrated a reduction in SAD symptoms in teenagers within the 4-week long experiment.

9. How safe is CBD oil?

There are a number of aspects to consider when you are planning to take CBD oil or are already consuming it:

  • finding the right dosage (according to this study, an oral dose of 300 mg of CBD oil taken 90 minutes before the test was sufficient to significantly reduce anxiety in speakers);
  • consult your doctor for recommendations;
  • the degree of tolerance varies from one person to another;
  • possible side effects can take place (changes in alertness, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, and others).

10. Final thoughts

While the research findings appear promising, it is still too early to conclude that CBD oils as well as other CBD products can be used to treat anxiety. More studies are needed to guide clinicians and the public on the safe and effective use of CBD as a treatment for anxiety. We still need more information about the appropriate dosing and long-term safety of CBD use and its possible effects on various bodily processes. Some scientists have also indicated a need for research that focuses on gender differences, with the aim of analysing the possible differences in CBD responses between male and female patients.

11. Sources

  1. Mental health: Fact sheet (https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/404851/MNH_FactSheet_ENG.pdf)
  2. Mental health in Europe – statistics & facts (https://www.statista.com/topics/7916/mental-health-in-europe/)
  3. France to begin its first experiment with medical marijuana (https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20210203-france-to-begin-first-experiment-with-medical-marijuana-cannabis)
  4. CBD: understanding how CBD works with our bodies (https://www.healtheuropa.eu/cbd-understanding-how-cbd-works-with-our-bodies/96718/)
  5. Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report (https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf)
  6. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/)
  7. Side Effects of CBD Oil: What Are the Risks? (https://marryjane.com/blog/side-effects-of-cbd-oil-what-are-the-risks/)
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