Racing heart, sweating palms, a feeling of dread. For the 18% of the American adults who experience anxiety, any given day or moment can feel completely overwhelming. Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the world and ongoing research into the efficacy of CBD for anxiety holds a lot of promise.
Treating Anxiety isn’t Cut-and-Dried
With an entire gamut of symptoms and connections to more specific disorders like OCD, PTSD, and agoraphobia, finding the right combination of therapy and medication to treat anxiety can be tough. To make matters worse, anxiety disorders can often become self-fulfilling prophecies, putting those who suffer from it in situations that induce even more anxiety, like missing work or self-isolating.
Traditional treatments typically mix together therapeutic care, long-range SSRIs, and/or fast-acting benzodiazepines to target specific symptoms. While therapy is a great way to target the causes and triggers, medications can have complicated side effects.
For example, SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, try to target the root cause of most anxiety disorders. Our bodies produce neurotransmitters called serotonin that help us relax and feel good. Normally, enough serotonin is produced to handle the job of transmitting messages from our brain and to leave enough actually IN the brain to keep bad feelings at bay. In those living with anxiety, though, there’s not enough of this “feel-good chemical” to go around. So, an SSRI prevents the reabsorption of serotonin by our blood and leaves it circulating in our brains.
Medications like Paxil, Prozak, and Zoloft are created in varying potencies to give patients exactly the dosage they need to keep their serotonin levels stabilized. Unfortunately, it’s common for people to have poor reactions to their first, second, or even third attempts at finding the right medication and dosage. For someone living with anxiety, this can be incredibly disheartening. Even after the proper medication and dose is found, results can take up to six weeks.
Fast-acting anxiety medications, like Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin, are for those who suffer from more severe or sudden symptoms of anxiety, like those living with a panic disorder. They work to depress the central nervous system, giving the person who takes them a feeling of relaxation and sedation. While they work well for treatment, they can be extremely addictive.
CBD for Anxiety: An Alternative to Traditional Treatments
While it isn’t fully understood yet how CBD for anxiety works, the theory is that it interacts with the CB1 brain receptor, which is part of your body’s endocannabinoid system that specifically affects the central nervous system.
Scientists have discovered that the endocannabinoid system works in reverse from how your brain’s other messaging systems do. Usually, messages are sent from a neuron in the brain, travel over a small gap, then attach to a receptor that spurs the intended results into action.
During this process, the endocannabinoid system is waiting to do the exact opposite. When the receptor gets the original message from the neuron, fat cells in that receptor release cannabinoids that detach and travel to the “sender.” When this process occurs, cannabinoids are “taking over” what the next message sent by the neuron is going to be. Typically, they simply limit the amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter like serotonin, that gets released. This slows the message transfer process and allows more dopamine to stay in the brain.
When a person who lives with anxiety takes CBD products, they are adding additional cannabinoids into this process. This allows the rate of dopamine and serotonin exchange and message transfer to slow even further, essentially giving your mind and your body a chance to process stimuli without using up too much of your “feel-good” chemicals.
A review published in 2015 covered 49 studies with evidence that strongly supported CBD as a treatment for a variety of anxiety-related disorders including generalized anxiety, panic, PTSD and more. While one of the largest case studies completed in 2019 showed that 79.2% of patients given CBD as part of their outpatient treatment experienced an improvement in their anxiety.
While these reports are promising, it’s important to remember that anxiety often requires more than one source of care. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor and to understand how CBD may support your current routine, including interacting with medications.
CBD is not a cure for anxiety or any ailment. It is a support aid like any other recommended treatment. If you are interested in exploring CBD as a support mechanism, current Allvane customers have enjoyed Hemp-Extract Wellness Formula, Unwind Formula 1500mg, Focus Formula and Gummies. As with any regimen, it’s important to find the right product and dosage that works best for you as every body is built differently.