Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. While this biological function is an essential part of life, those experiencing extreme feelings of anxiousness lasting longer than six months may be suffering from some form of anxiety disorder – especially if symptoms frequently interfere with day-to-day life. While traditional anxiety treatments are still very much hit-or-miss, many consumers have finally found effective symptom-relief with an organic plant-based compound commonly referred to as CBD. In this article, we discuss anxiety disorders, CBD for anxiety, and a few of the most frequently asked questions about beginning a CBD regimen for symptoms of anxiousness.
There are an estimated 40 million Americans aged 18 and older suffering from an anxiety disorder in one of its many forms and severities. This statistic roughly translates to about 18.1% of the nation’s adult population. Perhaps even more shocking, nearly 60% of those diagnosed do absolutely nothing to address or otherwise remedy their condition. If an anxiety disorder is left untreated, symptoms could quickly escalate out of control, making it hard to concentrate, sleep, and even communicate effectively with others.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
Researchers widely believe that the state of one’s overall brain chemistry is a critical factor in both the development and treatment of an anxiety disorder. A serotonin imbalance, more specifically, is directly associated with the progression of anxiety, depression, and many other psychological conditions. While serotonin levels certainly play a critical role, there is a myriad of other influences that could additionally lead to any number of psychological disorders, such as:
- Stressful life events
- Physical pain
- Chronic stress
- Physical illness
- Social isolation
- Post-traumatic situations
- Other emotional and psychological conditions
Traditional Anxiety Treatment
Traditional treatments for both anxiety and depression typically include medications classified as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Therapies with SSRIs attempt to balance one’s serotonin levels, as well as to help optimize their neurological responses to stimuli. While proven effective for some, these treatments take weeks before conditions improve, if they do at all (they don’t work for everyone).
A Holistic Approach to Managing Anxiety
Now more than ever, consumers in record-breaking numbers are beginning CBD regimens to help manage symptoms of anxiousness and depression. Recovering from an anxiety disorder is a personal and highly individual journey, and what works for one will not work for all. Multiple long-term treatment approaches, such as self-care programs and holistic lifestyle changes, typically yield superior results.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD for short, is a plant-based compound naturally produced by hemp and cannabis. CBD has received a lot of positive attention lately due, in part, to its potential as an all-natural treatment option for patients diagnosed with anxiety and depression disorders. CBD regimens are typically more affordable and cause far fewer and less severe adverse side-effects when compared to traditional pharmaceutical medications.
CBD for Anxiety
As it relates to anxiety disorders, CBD demonstrates an interaction with multiple neurotransmitters within the brain, which ultimately aids in the processing and balancing of the body’s natural responses to stimuli more effectively. Overall, researchers widely believe that CBD demonstrates considerable potential as a novel therapy for a range of anxiety disorders and other psychological conditions.
CBD and the Brain
A variety of experiments have attempted to analyze which particular neurotransmitters are affected by CBD and precisely what they signal within the body. As it relates to its potential as an anti-anxiety therapy, current scientific evidence demonstrates intricate interactions between CBD and highly-specialized neurotransmitters within the brain associated with the regulation of fear and anxiety-related behaviors. These conclusions suggest the potential of CBD as an effective therapy for anxiety, depression, and a host of other psychological conditions.
CBD and the 5-HT1A Receptor
At higher concentration levels, CBD demonstrates an interaction with a prominent serotonin receptor known as the 5-HT1A receptor. This sophisticated relationship directly results in a calming, anti-anxiety effect that is potentially ideal for a variety of conditions and disorders. The 5-HT1A receptor is additionally associated with a variety of other neurological processes, including:
- Pain perception
- Sleep regulation
In theory, the activation of the 5-HT1A receptor should have a direct impact on each of these biological functions. Therefore, CBD could theoretically improve upon each of these neurological processes as well. However, more research is required to substantiate each of these claims.
CBD for Anxiety: Animal Studies
Studying the effects of CBD for the treatment of anxiety and other psychological conditions began with animal testing. Researchers monitored how lab mice responded to a model of anxiety, both with and without CBD. The test subjects were analyzed for any change in behavior, as well as for any physical indicators such as body temperature, heart rate, and movement patterns. The results demonstrated that CBD is directly associated with a noticeable calming effect that in no way alters the subject’s ability to perform everyday tasks.
CBD for Anxiety: Human Studies
CBD testing in human trials yielded similar results. A study conducted in 2011 successfully demonstrated how CBD could help reduce symptoms of anxiety by inducing a sense of calm with absolutely no sedative-like effect or impact upon one’s ability to function. These initial results indicate that CBD can alter the way the human brain responds to anxiety and the stresses of everyday life. In the very least, CBD is capable of helping alleviate some of the most commonly associated symptoms of anxiety and depression.
CBD and Other Types of Anxiety
A separate human trial conducted in 2011 aimed to learn the effects of CBD on patients diagnosed with situational anxiety disorders (SAD). These conditions frequently are characterized as specific fears, such as public speaking, being in large crowds, and going out in public. The results demonstrated noticeably lower anxiety levels after CBD administration. Other published studies explain how CBD can potentially be applied as an effective treatment for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as well, even in children as young as ten years of age.
Every anxiety sufferer experiences individual and unique life stressors, which makes the ability of CBD to help manage various forms of anxiety simultaneously with no adverse side-effects highly favorable. While there is always a need for more in-depth research, results thus far demonstrate that the vast majority of anxiety patients experienced at least some form of relief with CBD. Others finally found total symptom-relief from their daily struggle with anxiety and depression.
Ongoing CBD Studies
CBD continues to be the single most well-researched cannabinoid to date due to its seemingly endless therapeutic effects. Its potential as a viable therapy for patients diagnosed with severe psychological disorders is ongoing. However, it will likely take years before sufficient evidence becomes available for any definitive conclusions to be made. Current CBD trials include its potential application for the following conditions:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Chronic depression
- Stress-induced insomnia
- Panic disorder (PD)
While the vast majority of CBD-focused studies have yielded favorable results, no definitive proof exists to substantiate these claims as of yet. Fortunately, there is an excess of anecdotal evidence claiming CBD to be an effective therapy for many different conditions, especially anxiety and depression. These first-hand testimonials are easily accessible online and often provide valuable insight into the use of CBD as a potentially viable treatment option. By and large, consumers utilizing CBD to combat symptoms commonly associated with an anxiety disorder have found astounding success, which is very encouraging for others considering a CBD regimen.