CBD for anxiety – Can the cannabinoid help with anxiety disorders?

Fear is first of all a completely natural feeling that even has a purpose! Only when fear and panic occur without a recognizable reason,

they have disease value. It is completely normal for the psyche to produce a feeling of fear in some situations. This is what helped our ancestors to survive. But what about now when anxiety and panic attacks become pathological and affect the way you feel about life? Is CBD then a tool that can help the patient without medication?

What are anxiety disorders and what are the types?

Anxiety is first of all a feeling that triggers stress in the body. When we are afraid, messenger substances such as cortisol are produced in large quantities. We feel as if we have to flee from a certain situation. This can be useful, for example in a threatening situation. However, panic attacks and fears occur again and again for no reason. For example, agonizing fear suddenly arises in the subway, against which the affected person cannot defend himself. Here is a brief overview of how fears and anxiety disorders can be classified:

Generalized anxiety - when anxiety reactions become a daily companion

Doctors call it generalized anxiety disorder when anxiety plays a major role in everyday life. Those affected belong to the group of anxious people and develop anxiety symptoms independently of a real threat. Such a disorder often occurs paired with depression, but can also appear singularly.

Characteristic is the suffering pressure of the affected persons, because the anxiety states influence the life massively. Fear leads to avoidant behavior, people with such anxiety disorders often withdraw and lose the fun in life.

Panic attacks - suddenly it strikes

Panic attacks are known for their sudden onset and are one of the common anxiety disorders. There is no identifiable trigger, the symptoms are felt physically and psychologically. More than 30 percent of humanity experiences a panic attack at least once in their lifetime or is affected for a prolonged period of time.

The most common physical and mental symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety reactions outside of dangerous situations
  • Sweating
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Fear of dying or “going crazy
    Avoidance of all situations in which a panic attack occurred

Phobias - specific anxiety states with a trigger

In specific anxiety states, the reaction only occurs when the trigger is nearby. Typical here are fear of flying, fear of the dentist, panic of spiders, etc. There are also much rarer phobias that can theoretically relate to all objects, life situations, people or even food.

How can CBD oil help against anxiety?

Affected people are desperately looking for a solution to their anxiety and sometimes even resort to obscure tips. In medicine, mainly antidepressants of the SSRI type are used, alternatively benzodiazepines are used.

In the meantime, there are more and more reports from people who have been able to combat anxiety with CBD oil. But how does it work? How can CBD work against anxiety and even reduce it?

Some studies show that CBD can be helpful for anxiety disorders, but also for specific phobias. For example, this paper has reported success using CBD for fear of public speaking. Studies on animal models, on the other hand, show that CBD can have an anxiety-reducing effect in general.

But how does it work? Let’s make the assumption that anxiety disorders arise based on reduced serotonin occurrence. In this case, CBD works against anxiety by having an impact on serotonin levels. It is considered proven that cannabidiol interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain. Among other things, these are responsible for the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

If the active ingredient of the hemp plant increases the serotonin level on the one hand and lowers the cortisol level in parallel, the relaxing effect of CBD can be explained. Research also sees a connection here. This would also explain why CBD is just as popular a remedy for depression.

Another approach is to increase the activity of GABA receptors in the human brain. The so-called gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter responsible for inhibiting nerve cell activity. Sufficient presence and high activity of the corresponding receptors can lead to relief in anxiety states.

Is CBD a real alternative to antidepressants or does it serve as a supplement?

Whether CBD has a sufficient effect on anxiety disorders can only be determined by those affected themselves. By no means all people with an anxiety disorder take medication. Many of them use therapeutic approaches to free themselves from anxiety. It is in this area that CBD could have significant added value, as its effect has been proven in studies.

Beware: the effect of CBD correlates with the effect of antidepressants. If you are taking medication, it is important to consult your doctor before using cannabidiol. There are some people who report drug interactions.

What are the advantages of cannabidiol/CBD over medication?

If medical treatment of anxiety is undertaken, the effects of medication are almost always relied upon. Acute anxiety and panic quite often require the use of benzodiazepines, which have a high potential for addiction. Cannabinoids such as CBD have not been shown to be addictive and are therefore “harmless” as a treatment.

CBD should not be confused with cannabis use. There is serious evidence that THC-containing products can actually increase or trigger anxiety. Treatment with hemp is always assumed to involve the use of CBD!

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) have no addictive potential and play a major role in the treatment of anxiety and depression. The disadvantage here is that the effect only sets in after about six weeks. By using hemp in comparison, according to experience reports, a direct relief of symptoms should be possible!

Important: If you are already taking an anti-anxiety drug prescribed by your doctor, do not simply stop taking it! Even if your condition has improved, it is important to gradually taper off. Always consult with your doctor so that your problems are not exacerbated by discontinuation.

Can a panic attack be stopped with CBD?

An acute panic attack lasts between a few minutes and up to half an hour. The primary concern for sufferers is to quickly end the condition. This raises the question of whether CBD can possibly alleviate acutely existing panic attacks. Here, opinions are controversial. Since CBD starts to take effect after 30 to 60 minutes on average, its use might be too late.

However, many users report that panic attacks generally occur less frequently through the use of CBD. Thus, the effects are more long-term in nature.

Do anxiety disorders disappear again or are they chronic?

Anxiety disorders can affect people of all ages and occur in about 30% of humanity at some point. There are different forms of anxiety, but many can be treated well. Above all, the discomfort of everyday life can be alleviated by effective therapies. According to studies, most patients can be cured with an individual treatment concept.

Do anxiety patients have to expect side effects with CBD?

An anxiety disorder is often accompanied by fears of medications or substances. CBD has been declared safe by the WHO and no toxic effects have been found in studies either. However, side effects can never be completely ruled out, even with CBD. The decisive factor here is that the dosage has a high influence on the probability of side effects. Those who dose CBD oil too high at the beginning must expect complaints such as fatigue, drowsiness and gastrointestinal complaints.

When CBD is slowly habituated, the body reacts less strongly, which also benefits anxiety disorder. This piecemeal dosing is also known from anti-anxiety medications. SSRIs, for example, are also prescribed by the doctor in smaller doses, which are later increased.

Is CBD also used in psychiatry?

Anxiety disorder rarely leads patients to psychiatry, because the clinical picture can be commonly treated as an outpatient. In the case of a voluntary psychiatric stay, it is possible that CBD oil is used as a complementary treatment.

Doctors are not allowed to prescribe CBD, however, because it is not approved as an official medical product. Cannabis, on the other hand, has a counterproductive effect. Studies have shown that cannabis can trigger and increase anxiety! Consequently, if hemp is used, CBD is the only sensible choice.

Conclusion: CBD is one of the possible alternatives for anxiety disorders

Anxiety is a stressful situation for sufferers, but it is treatable. Modern research knows a lot about the development of anxiety, thus suitable therapies can also be developed. There are many clear indications that CBD can have an appreciable effect in the treatment. It is to be expected that many more studies on this topic will be published in the coming years.