One of the most common reasons people give for using CBD oil products is to reduce anxiety. So, what are the benefits of CBD oil for anxiety? Let’s first take a look at what exactly anxiety is, and then we’ll discuss CBD’s potential role in treating anxiety.
Anxiety is a term that medical professionals use to describe feelings of unease. Types of anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, PTSD, and OCD.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is the most common mental illness in the US. Specifically, more than 40 million adults in the United States (18.1% of the population) suffer from anxiety. However, only 37% of those suffering from anxiety seek treatment.
Facts and Statistics By Type of Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
A total of 6.8 million adults (3.1% of the US population) suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Women are affected by GAD twice as often as men. And less than half of people with GAD ever receive treatment.
Panic disorder causes people to suffer severe bouts of anxiety in seemingly harmless situations. 6 million adults, or about 2.7% of the US population, are affected by Panic Disorder. Again, women are twice as likely to be affected by Panic Disorder than men.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder causes people to become extremely anxious in social situations. More than 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the US population, suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. Almost 40% of the people with this ailment suffer with it for many years before seeking medical treatment. Unlike GAD and Panic Disorder, the number of women and men with Social Anxiety Disorder is about the same in males and females.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is marked by compulsive behaviors based on irrational fears. It can manifest in many ways. There are 2.2 million adults (1% of the US population) suffering from OCD. And 33% of them first experienced symptoms in childhood. OCD also appears equally among men and women.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder results from traumatic situations such as combat or abuse. With PTSD, when triggered, memories can replay in a patient’s mind. PTSD affects 7.7 million adults. That’s about 3.7% of the US population. Although most people know of PTSD as a disorder of combat veterans, it appears twice as often in women.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Medical professionals often describe anxiety in physical terms more so than emotional terms. Anxiety patients often complain of a tightness in their chest, a pit in their stomach, or a lump in their throat.
Other symptoms of anxiety disorders include trembling, digestive issues, head and back pain. Racing heart rate, excessive sweating, mood swings, sleep disorders, and paranoia are also common. Furthermore, any number of other medical conditions are often attributed to other conditions.
What are the causes of anxiety?
Anxiety has a variety of causes. For example, these can include environmental factors, medical issues, drug side effects, and genetic predisposition.
Environmental factors include grief, abuse, stress, and relationship issues, which can trigger anxiety. Also, medical factors can trigger anxiety. These include heart conditions, breathing problems, and other chronic illnesses.
Anxiety is a side effect of certain medications and can result from substance abuse. Also, a family history of anxiety increases the probability of developing anxiety. And abnormal levels of neurotransmitters in the brain also increase the likelihood of anxiety.
Those suffering from anxiety often produce low levels of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is a cousin of dopamine. Dopamine comes into play via the brain’s reward circuits, while serotonin is a more like an ongoing signal to the body that all is well. Serotonin imparts feelings of safety, well-being, and contentment.
In stressful situations, serotonin production drops markedly. Increases in serotonin levels reduce the symptoms of anxiety. As it turns out, CBD can help increase serotonin levels.
How is Anxiety Treated?
Those who suffer from anxiety disorders generally respond well to treatments through psychological counseling or medication.
Psychological counseling includes many subcategories like cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, or a combination of therapies. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, aims to alter the patient’s negative thinking patterns.
Anxiety patients often undergo extended psychotherapy to explore the roots of the patient’s anxiety and find out ways to alleviate the symptoms. This involves lengthy discussions with a trained psychotherapist.
Doctors often prescribe drugs to patients in an effort to limit the symptoms. Benzodiazepines have been used excessively in the past, but their use is now limited due to their highly addictive properties.
How does CBD help increase serotonin levels?
Scientists call the group of chemical compounds to which CBD belongs “cannabinoids.” Hundreds of cannabinoid compounds are produced by cannabis. And different cannabinoids have slight chemical variations. Scientists call the cannabinoids found in plants phytocannabinoids.
Interestingly, there are signaling molecules produced naturally by the human body called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids are very similar in their structure. These endocannabinoids control a vast array of cellular activities.
Phytocannabinoids are similar enough to endocannabinoids that they can mimic their effects. Phytocannabinoids can also mimic the effects of other signaling molecules in the body. For example, anandamide is one of those. CBD mimics anandamide, a signaling molecule that triggers the production of serotonin. And this, in turn, reduces symptoms of anxiety.
Is there any scientific evidence to support the use of CBD oil for anxiety?
Yes, there is scientific evidence to back up the claims that there could be benefits to using CBD oil for anxiety.
Research has shown that using CBD oil for anxiety can greatly reduce the symptoms. Also, there is compelling preclinical evidence that demonstrates CBD’s ability to control behaviors associated with anxiety disorders. These include behaviors associated with PTSD, GAD, PD, and OCD.
Are you interested in delving deeper into the science of CBD’s potential as a treatment for anxiety? Below is a short list of scientific studies on the topic of the therapeutic benefits of CBD oil for anxiety.