Unlike other medical problems that are purely physical, mental issues such as anxiety and depression can be much harder to treat, and many people become frustrated with the lack of options available to them. Traditional anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants can often cause side effects or even make the issue worse. CBD in its many forms can offer a natural alternative or complementary treatment for anxiety, depression or other neurological issues.
USING CBD FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANXIETY
Worldwide, depression is the leading cause of disability, with most sufferers, especially in developing countries, not receiving adequate treatment. In the USA, anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million adults, or around 18% of the population, with only a third of those receiving treatment.
While we often talk about anxiety as a single issue, it can actually take many forms:
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD): this is a situation in which a person feels anxious for an ongoing period – usually six months or more. They experience exaggerated worry and tension, even when they cannot identify any particular cause.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): this may be familiar to a lot of people as it is portrayed frequently in television and film. The disorder is characterised by ongoing intrusive thoughts, which lead the sufferer to carry out certain rituals or behaviours such as constant handwashing or checking locked doors.
Panic disorder: while generalised anxiety disorder creates and ongoing feeling of stress, panic disorder is characterised by more acute bouts of anxiety, resulting in panic attacks. During these attacks, people experience physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain and dizziness, and may even feel they are about to die.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): caused by an exposure to or experience of a traumatic event such as war, natural disasters or violent personal assaults. The disorder causes symptoms such as flashbacks, trouble relaxing, nightmares and avoidance issues.
Social phobia (social anxiety disorder): while many people can be nervous about things such as public speaking, people with social anxiety disorder can experience this level of distress in any kind of social situation, often leading to overwhelming anxiety any time that they are around other people.
Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand, with nearly half of people diagnosed with depression also diagnosed with some kind of anxiety disorder.
HOW CHRONIC STRESS AND ANXIETY AFFECT THE BODY
While anxiety and depression are obviously distressing and even debilitating for those that suffer from them, these conditions can have implications that go far beyond their immediate effects on mental health. Chronic stress, anxiety or depression have been shown to cause:
- Obesity and eating disorders
- Sexual disfunction
- Menstrual problems
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of heart disease or stroke
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Hair loss
- Skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis
HOW CBD WORKS FOR ANXIETY
You’ve probably heard many claims about how useful CBD can be for treating and managing anxiety, but to understand exactly how it works, we need to take a step back and learn a little bit about the body.
Inside all mammals exists what is known as the endocannabinoid system, a system of receptors that can be found right throughout the body. Although this system is a fairly recent discovery, it is a very important one, as it turns out that these receptors govern many of the body’s vital functions including mood, stress response, sleep patterns, immune function, pain response and appetite.
How CBD can help with anxiety and so many other health problems is by interacting with these endocannabinoid receptors. As they connect with these receptors, they work to restore stability to these functions and help the body to function in a healthy and natural way. As the body begins to regulate its stress responses, this leads to a reduction in anxiety and an improvement in the way you handle stressful situations.
THE RESEARCH ON CBD
While the scientific research on the full range of CBD benefits is still in its infancy, there have been a number of studies conducted that show positive results with the use of CBD for anxiety.
- During a study in 2010 on sufferers of social anxiety, participants given CBD not only claimed they felt calmer, but brain scans showed reduced activity in the areas associated with stress.
- A 2011 study found CBD reduced stress in sufferers of social anxiety, in particular when it came to public speaking.
- A 2015 review of a number of studies found overall positive evidence in the use of CBD to alleviate generalised anxiety, panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- A 2016 study found CBD was useful in reducing anxiety and associated sleep problems in a child affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.
HOW TO USE CBD OIL FOR ANXIETY
For those used to taking traditional prescription medication for their anxiety, they can perhaps feel a little unsure of how much CBD they need to help with their symptoms.
The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s situation is different, and everyone will need a different amount of CBD. While CBD is a completely natural product, it is best to start with a low dosage and see how your body responds – you might discover that you can reap the benefits of from a very small amount.
Things that will affect how you react to CBD and how much you might need to feel relief from anxiety will include:
- Your body weight
- Your metabolism
- The concentration of the product
- Your particular issues and severity of your anxiety
If you choose to use CBD to treat anxiety, it is advisable to include it as part of a larger treatment plan. In particular, if you are taking medication to treat your anxiety or depression, you should always speak to your doctor before starting with any new substance. If at all possible, it might be helpful to find a doctor who has experience in cannabis medicine.