A common question asked is doe’s CBD work for anxiety? Anxiety is a mental health disorder that affects one in 13 people around the world, making it the most common mental health disorder worldwide, according to World Health Organization.
What is CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) is a non psycho active compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD does not give you the “high sensation”. CBD works by entering the body and connecting to receptors. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptor plays the role in helping with health and disease, cardiovascular and motor control and are primarily located on nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Whereas CB2 receptors helps with the immune system by managing pain and inflammation. CB2 receptors are mainly found on white blood cells, in the tonsils and in the spleen.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam. However, that is perfectly normal, but some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their day to day life.
Types of anxiety
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – This is the most common type of anxiety. It usually comes with other conditions such as depression. GAD can affect your day to day life and the main symptom is over worrying about different activities and events. It can sometimes feel out of control and you may feel on ‘edge’ and alert to your surroundings.
Panic Disorder – Panic disorder results in regular panic attacks with no trigger. They can happen suddenly and can feel intense and frightening.
Social anxiety disorder – Also known as social phobia. Although lots of people worry about social situations, social anxiety is different you will have an intense fear or dread of social or performance situations. This can happen before, during or after an event.
Phobias – A phobia is an overwhelming fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or an animal. Phobias are stronger than fears. They develop when a person has increased feelings of danger about a situation or object. People with phobias may rearrange their day to avoid their phobia.
Agoraphobia – Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or situations where help would not be available if things go wrong.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – You will have obsessions, compulsion or both if you have OCD.
An obsession is an unwelcome thought or image that you keep thinking about and is largely out of control. These can be difficult to ignore. The thoughts can be disturbing.
Compulsion is something you think about or do repeatedly to relieve anxiety. This can be hidden or obvious.
You could believe something bad could happen if you do not do these things. You may even realise that your thinking and behaviour is not logical but still find it very difficult to stop.
Skin-picking – Skin picking is medically known as dermatillomania. It is an impulse control disorder; you will regularly pick at your skin including healthy skin. This can cause damage, including bleeding, bruising and sometimes permanent marks.
Hair pulling – Hair pulling is medically known as trichotillomania. It’s an impulse control disorder; you feel the urge to pull out your hair whether it’s from your scalp, arms, eyelashes, eyebrows, legs or pubic hair. With this illness there are no underlying health problems.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – PTSD is caused by a life-threatening situation, such as a car crash. It can last months to years, even if you were not physically harmed.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) – You will have upsetting thoughts about the way you look if you have BDD. The thoughts do not go away and have a big effect on day to day life.
Causes of anxiety
Anxiety can be caused by many things such as:
- Work Stress
- Stress from school
- Stress from a personal relationship e.g. marriage
- Financial stress
- Stress from emotional trauma e.g. death of a loved one
- Stress from a serious medical illness
- Side effect of medication
- Use of an illicit drug such as cocaine
- Symptoms of a medical illness
- Lack of oxygen e.g. high-altitude sickness
Symptoms of anxiety
Everyone’s experience of anxiety disorders are different. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms. Anxiety can have both mental and physical symptoms and can often lead to depression.
Mental symptoms can include:
- Racing thoughts
- Uncontrollable over thinking
- Difficulties concentrating
- Feelings of dread, panic or ‘impending doom’
- Feeling irritable
- Heightened alertness
- Problems with sleep
- Changes in appetite
- Wanting to escape from the situation you are in
Physical symptoms include:
- Heavy and fast breathing
- Racing heartbeat
- Hot flushes or blushing
- Dry mouth
- Hair loss
- Extreme tiredness or lack of energy
- Headaches, dizziness or fainting
- Stomach aches, nausea and sickness
Anxiety can also make it difficult for day to day aspects of your life such as:
- Looking after yourself
- Holding down a job
- Maintaining relationships
- Trying new things
- Enjoying activities, you used to enjoy
Can CBD work for anxiety?
Low serotonin levels are connected to depression and CBD is believed to boost serotonin levels but also may affect how your brain’s chemical receptors respond to serotonin that is already in your body. Which means CBD could affect these receptors and produce both antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, which was found in an animal study in 2014.
A small study in 2010, on people who suffered from social anxiety disorder, found that CBD could reduce symptoms of social anxiety. Brain scans of those who participated revealed changes in blood flow to the regions of the brain linked to feelings of anxiety. In the study, cannabidiol not only made participants feel better but also changed the way their brain responded to anxiety.