Anxiety is a surprisingly common condition. Approximately 6 million people in Great Britain suffer from depression or anxiety according to Anxiety UK. Often, these two disorders go hand in hand, even though they can be experienced separately.
The term ‘anxiety’ actually encompasses a number of disorders, all characterised by a few similar symptoms. Phobias, such as agoraphobia or claustrophobia, are also classified as anxiety disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another condition which falls under this umbrella.
With the epidemic of anxiety taking place in the UK, it’s obviously important to find ways to help people suffering from the disorder. Recently, cannabidiol (CBD) has been touted as the answer to this problem, but just how true could that be? Today, we will be investigating whether CBD could actually help people suffering from the symptoms of anxiety.
If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms, then read on to discover if CBD is a worthy investment. But first, what actually are the symptoms of anxiety?
What is Anxiety?
There are many different types of anxiety. Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) are both common forms of the disorder. These, along with PTSD, will be the main focus of this article. Of course, it is important to remember that you may experience just a few of these symptoms, or perhaps all of them.
The experience of a mental health issue will be completely different for any individual, and your own experience of anxiety being different does not mean that you do not have a problem. Nevertheless, you should never self-diagnose, and seeking out the help of a doctor is key.
If you think you may be suffering from anxiety, then pay a visit to your local GP. Here are the symptoms to look out for:
- A sense of dread
- Feeling anxious or worried without particular cause
- Feeling anxious or worried after a particular trigger
- Difficulty concentrating
Alongside these, you may also experience physical symptoms, such as:
- Dry mouth
- Pins and needles
Unfortunately, it is not known precisely what causes anxiety. It could potentially be genetic, but it could also be related to traumatic experiences or substance abuse. Sometimes, individuals experience anxiety disorders without an obvious reason.
How is Anxiety Normally Treated?
There are several traditional treatments for anxiety that may be prescribed by your doctor. Commonly, therapies will be the first step in helping those with anxiety. A licensed counselor can help you to talk through your problem and understand the root of it. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you to not only talk about your problem, but also teach you the tools to deal with it.
It is also recommended to try home remedies that may calm you down. For example, taking time out for yourself, writing in a diary, taking walks in nature, or exercising more are all often suggested as ways to beat anxiety. If you often experience panic attacks, then it could be useful to find ways to calm down – try out breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga.
For more severe forms of anxiety, pharmaceutical medications might be recommended. Some of these medications are taken for only a short period, whereas others require a long-term course. Usually, the medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a form of antidepressant. These help to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, allowing you to feel happier and calmer.
It must be noted, however, that SSRIs can have nasty side effects, including feeling agitated, nausea and vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea, loss of appetite, headaches, insomnia, and more. This is why they are only prescribed as a last resort – they are not necessarily good for you.
It is hard for doctors to make a decision. Therapies and home remedies are not always effective, but SSRIs can be harmful. Luckily, though, there could be a way around it, a treatment that is both safe and effective.
That treatment is CBD.
Wait a Minute, What’s CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an active ingredient found within the cannabis plant. There are over one hundred of these active compounds in the plant, and each one is slightly different.
Lately, CBD has become famed for its myriad of potential uses. Unlike some other cannabinoids, CBD is completely non-psychoactive. As a result, it can never get you high. It can, however, provide your body with a little health boost.
We are all equipped with something called an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This is a network of cannabinoid receptors, which cannabinoids are able to bind with. The receptors are usually triggered by molecules called endocannabinoids. These are produced by the body when necessary, binding with receptors to spread messages around the body. As a result, the body is able to adapt to various circumstances and maintain balance.
Sometimes, not enough endocannabinoids are produced, and this leads to an endocannabinoid deficiency. This deficiency could be responsible for a vast number of different conditions, including anxiety.
Taking CBD can stimulate the production of more endocannabinoids, allowing the body to correct itself naturally. For this reason, many experiments are taking place in which CBD is being tested as a possible solution for a number of problems.
As of yet, it’s uncertain whether CBD can actually solve these symptoms. Let’s look a little deeper into the possibility of using CBD for anxiety.
How Could CBD Help with Anxiety?
The first ever recorded use of cannabis for anxiety is during the year 1500 in India. Of course, people back then were using the whole plant, not extracted forms of CBD. But now, cannabis is illegal in much of the world due to the psychoactive effects of THC, one of the other cannabinoids. As a result, anyone wishing to use CBD as a part of their health regime must use an extracted form of the cannabinoid.
Because of this, it’s important to remember that the CBD you’re buying online, in pharmacies, or in High Street stores is not intended to treat any disorders – they are food supplements, not medicines.
Nevertheless, there is reason to believe that CBD might be able to help. A 2011 study from the Journal of Psychopharmacology demonstrated that CBD might be able to help. The researchers performed a double-blind study in which neither patients nor researchers knew if they were receiving CBD or a placebo. After consumption, participants reported a significant decrease in anxiety, more so than those who received the placebo. The patient’s reports were verified by brain scans, which showed cerebral blood flow patterns matching that of an anti-anxiety effect.
Another study from the same year had similar results. In this test, participants with social phobia were asked to perform a public speaking test after taking CBD or a placebo. These participants had never before received any treatment for their anxiety. Those who had received the CBD showed fewer symptoms of social anxiety than those who had taken the placebo.
As the results of these studies show, CBD could really help people with anxiety. However, it is important to note that the participants of these studies received extreme quantities of cannabidiol. For example, those in the second study were given 600 mg in a single dose – this is quite different to the 10 mg or so in a normal dose of CBD!
What’s the Best Way to Take CBD for Anxiety?
If you suffer from anxiety, then hope is not lost. Of course, the food supplements you buy in the UK are not going to solve all your problems. That being said, just as a change in diet and lifestyle habits may be able to help your anxiety, taking CBD might also be able to alleviate some of the symptoms.
If you are looking to take CBD daily, then you could try out easy-to-use CBD capsules or perhaps even edibles. If gummy bears aren’t your thing, you can try experimenting with CBD recipes.
However, if you suffer from panic disorder, PTSD, or a form of anxiety that comes on suddenly, then you could try other options. Sublingual CBD tinctures can take effect in as little as 15 minutes, relieving your symptoms fast. Or, you could try vaping your CBD. Vaping is the quickest method of CBD delivery, and it could help you almost immediately.
If you have tried out CBD for anxiety, what’s your preferred method? Let us know down in the comments below.