Anxiety has become a hot button word lately. And for good reason. 18% of Americans report having anxiety in any given year. It is the most common and pervasive mental health disorder in the United States. Anxiety can affect almost anyone and may result from a number of factors. Anxiety can come from external factors like intense situations or situations we feel like we can’t control. It can also come from a build-up of other life experiences that compound and make certain times more difficult than others. Unfortunately for anxiety sufferers, it can also come from internal factors- our own thoughts and our genetic makeup. While those thoughts might have purpose, they can still be painful. Anxiety can be absolutely debilitating. Despite how challenging living with anxiety is, only a fraction of people receive treatment.
If you think anxiety- extreme fear or worry- is something you experience, there is help and you are not alone. For a deeper dive into different types of anxiety and how it can impact you, check out the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. For a quick overview keep reading. If you just want to know how CBD can help- jump ahead.
What is Anxiety?
The feeling of anxiety is not inherently bad. It is a normal part of life to experience occasional anxiety. It is part of our survival instinct that keeps us alert to danger, particularly during new experiences. But when that sensitivity to danger doesn’t shut off, our fears or concerns begin to interrupt everyday life. That is generally when anxiety becomes a problem. Sometimes even so much of a problem that we avoid work, friends, or obligations at home. Anxiety is no longer protective when instead of being primed to avoid a potential lion attack, we can’t stop thinking that Aunt Sally may be mad at us and we can’t shake the feeling that we definitely did something wrong or will mess up in the future.
You may have picked up that there are both physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. Physical symptoms- sweating, increased heart rate, nausea can feel pretty terrible. Mental symptoms- worry, racing thoughts can also be pretty distressing. They physical and mental symptoms generally interact and make each other worse. Even when knowing these thoughts and the body changes are excessive or unreasonable in the situation, people with anxiety can’t control them. Anxiety can be debilitating when it is persistently uncontrollable.
It is not uncommon for people feeling anxiety to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to try to cope and function throughout the day. Especially if it feels like that is the only option after trying and experiencing negative side effects of medication. There are many prescription medications like SSRIs and benzodiazepines, but they can carry side effects that are not pleasant.
Thankfully, CBD is emerging as a natural source for anxiety management with few to no side effects. It has been reported to work as a great adjunct to prescription medication or as an alternative to it. In 2019, a Gallup poll found that 1 in 7 Americans already use CBD, and that 20% of those users used it to treat anxiety–the second highest purpose for CBD after pain management.
How Can CBD Help Anxiety?
There is a lot of ongoing research around how CBD works. There are things we know for sure like that the body produces its own cannabinoid compounds similar to THC and CBD called “endocannabinoids,” and that these chemicals interact with an entire endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies. They do this by binding with cell receptors throughout the body, which then triggers a physiological response from those cells, resulting in things like reduced inflammation, more rhythmic sleep patterns, and by relieving anxiety.
There is mounting evidence that CBD affects the same receptors as serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical naturally produced in the body and credited with, among other things, stabilizing mood. As a result, CBD has been found to reduce anxiety.
In fact, one preliminary report published in the journal Neurotherapeutics stated that, “Preclinical evidence conclusively demonstrates CBD’s efficacy in reducing anxiety behaviors relevant to multiple disorders, including PTSD, GAD, PD, OCD, and SAD.” But equally as important, they found that CBD also displayed, “minimal sedative effects, and an excellent safety profile.”
Another study published in 2019 found that when volunteers took a daily dose of CBD, “Anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained decreased during the study duration,” adding, “CBD was well tolerated in all but 3 patients”.
CBD is a nice option for treating anxiety. It is generally well tolerated by most people, has fewer side effects than most other treatments, and works well in a multitude of environments.
Anxiety is a common affliction that can affect anyone, even temporarily, as a result of stress, negative thoughts, the stuff of everyday life, and frequently feels uncontrollable.
While more severe cases of anxiety should be treated under the care of a physician, there is a growing body of evidence that those suffering from mild to moderate anxiety may find relief with a regular dose of CBD. The natural hemp extract not only calms the mind, but also helps regulate sleep, and relieves pain, all of which contribute to a less anxious state of mind.
Consult a doctor if you have preexisting heart or blood pressure issues before taking CBD. If you are taking an SSRI or a benzodiazepine you should also consult a doctor about CBD to discuss specific dosing amounts. CBD makes a great addition to the treatment of anxiety. Take care of yourself and enjoy a life free of anxiety.
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