DOES CBD HELP WITH SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY?
With the importance of looking after your mental health in focus now more than ever, the rise of anxiety in all its forms is dominating the conversation. From day-to-day worries to long-term suffering, we explore if CBD can provide a natural answer to one of the world’s biggest problems.
DEALING WITH ANXIETY
Overall, 30% of Britons will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime. The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), published by NHS Digital, indicates that depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems, affecting one in six adults.1 And it’s these alarming stats that confirm just how widespread this issue is.
Being anxious about certain situations in life is absolutely normal. Facing something we think is threatening or frightening, such as job interviews, money worries, or issues with personal relationships, is what causes anxiety to build. Our body naturally kicks in to make our thinking more alert, as well as giving us physiological feedback through an increased heart rate and perspiration. And although this can be beneficial in some instances, long-term acute and chronic anxiety can be extremely unhelpful and eventually disabling. From minor issues such as the universally accepted hatred of public speaking, to more serious afflictions, including the inability to socialise, carry out routine tasks, and proneness to panic attacks – it can have a significant effect on how we live our lives. And to compound this further, more than half of individuals with an anxiety disorder will have coexisting symptoms of depression.
It’s certainly no wonder the rise in anxiety coincides with a crisis in mental health care. And longer waits for treatment often lead to more complications. As a result, this wait, coupled with increased pressure on the NHS, has created a growing market for domestic anxiety cures. Without the adequate professional help, individuals are privately searching for a way to help settle their nerves and restore some natural calm to their lives – and this is where CBD comes in. The cannabis extract used for thousands of years, and hailed by many across the world as a natural pain management and sleep aid, is now increasingly linked to those with symptoms of anxiety as a potential path to relief.
WHAT IS CBD AND DOES IT EASE ANXIETY?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a completely non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant, one of over 100 natural components, filtered to remove 100% of the THC content. This cannabinoid reacts with our body's endocannabinoid system to give users the benefits without the unwanted ‘high’.
CBD works by interacting with one of the body's own regulatory system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). We have endocannabinoid receptors almost everywhere in the body and it is part of our nervous system. We find them most abundantly in the brain but also in the gut, reproductive system, bones and immune cells.
The ECS plays an essential role in keeping the body within a narrow range of operating conditions and controls important functions like mood, memory, stress, sleep, behaviour, appetite, pain, immune function and reproductive health. In the body we naturally produce chemical substances called endocannabinoids, which bind to the endocannabinoid receptors and regulate all the above functions. Because of this, the endocannabinoid system holds an important role in keeping us healthy.
So, for those who suffer from anxiety (whatever the level of severity), CBD is a way to help restore the balance within your body – working naturally to reduce your prolonged, unsettling sense of alertness, and bring an end to other psychological and physiological effects as a result.
WILL IT WORK FOR YOU?
From different strengths and products you use, to the level of anxiety experienced on a day-to-day basis, this is where results will depend on the individual and their specific CBD use. For the majority of us, real anxiety will only kick in during moments of fear, especially in anticipation. And again, for the majority of us, public speaking is our least favourite thing to do. This is the simplest example to demonstrate how anxiety can attack the body – leading to sleepless nights, sweaty palms, and the failure to deliver on the day.
In a 2018 study, male subjects received CBD before undergoing a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that an oral dose of 300 mg, administered 90 minutes before the test, was enough to significantly reduce the speakers’ anxiety.2 And it’s this strong indication that’s enough to make most professionals take notice. Also highlighting that you don’t have to be an extreme sufferer to adopt this natural method of anxiety management. But, some will ask, where’s the proof for more serious cases? Well, there is also additional evidence supporting the idea that CBD may also benefit people with all forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It might also help treat anxiety-induced insomnia, too.
In 2011, a study researched CBD’s effects on people with SAD. Participants were given an oral dose of 400 milligrams (mg) of CBD or a placebo. Those who received CBD experienced overall reduced anxiety levels.3 Multiple recent studies have shown that CBD can help also with PTSD symptoms, such as having nightmares and replaying negative memories. These studies have looked at CBD as both a standalone PTSD treatment, as well as a supplement to traditional treatments like medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
FINDING YOUR ANSWER
Although more research is needed when it comes to generalised anxiety, these promising studies offer some positive indications that CBD may be an effective option for dealing with symptoms of anxiety, each and every day. Plus, it offers a positively natural approach to consider before being prescribed antidepressants and other similar, potentially dangerous, brain and behaviour-altering medicines.
Anxiety affects us all in different ways. So when it comes to tackling symptoms, as well as long-term solutions, it will always come down to the individual. With different strengths of CBD available, as well as different ways to take it, it’s recommended to introduce it slowly so you can adjust dosage to meet your needs.
4) Braz. J. Psychiatry vol.41 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Feb. 2019 Epub Oct 11, 2018