Managing Anxiety with CBD
I remember when I first started experiencing anxiety. I had no idea what that “weird feeling” was and had no real general way to describe it. The best way I could describe it then was that I felt nervous and really uncomfortable for no reason. That was especially troublesome for me because it didn't jive with my personality and how I had lived my life. I was never a “nervous” person. I was always outgoing, sociable and sometimes even brash (not my words lol). The lack of control over these sensations was driving me up a wall. So much so, that I wound up seeking medical help for the “nervousness”. Unfortunately, that help came in the form of prescription drugs. Fortunately, they didnt work and made me feel so horrible that it led me to continue to search for a solution. That's when I personally undiscovered that cannabis and later CBD could help people “chill out”. I’ve been helping people chill ever since then 😀
Anxiety is a prevalent and often overwhelming condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It's not just occasional nerves or worry; anxiety can manifest in a number of ways, from persistent unease to debilitating panic attacks. In this article, I’ll talk about how CBD (cannabidiol) can play a useful role in managing anxiety. But first, let's break down anxiety and its spectrum of disorders, examine its prevalence in the United States, and understand its impact on different demographics.
Defining Anxiety and Its Manifestations
Anxiety is a natural response to stress, a survival mechanism that keeps us alert and focused (consider it your version of spider man's Spidey sense).However, when anxiety becomes chronic and uncontrollable, it can significantly impact daily life. Some common manifestations of anxiety-related symptoms include:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Persistent and excessive worry about everyday life, often with no apparent reason.
Panic Disorder: Sudden and repeated episodes of intense fear that trigger severe physical reactions.
Social Anxiety Disorder: Fear of being judged or rejected in social situations, leading to avoidance behaviors.
Specific Phobias: Intense fears of specific objects or situations, such as spiders or flying.
The Prevalence of Anxiety in the United States
Anxiety disorders are more common than you might think. In the United States:
Prevalence: Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million adults, making it one of the most common mental health conditions.
Demographics: Women are more likely to experience anxiety, with a prevalence of about 23.4% compared to 14.3% in men. However, it's important to acknowledge the racial disparities in access to mental health care.
Racial Disparities: African Americans are 20% more likely to experience severe anxiety than white Americans. Moreover, they are less likely to receive appropriate mental health care, highlighting the need for addressing these disparities.
Age: Anxiety doesn't discriminate by age; it affects individuals across the lifespan, with the median age of onset around 30. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 30% of adults (18+ years old) and adolescents (13-18 years of age) suffer from some anxiety disorder in their lifetime
Race and Economic Status: Anxiety knows no racial or economic bounds, impacting individuals from diverse backgrounds. However, access to treatment and the severity of symptoms may vary among different demographic groups, emphasizing the need for equity in mental health care.
CBD's Biochemical Magic in Anxiety Relief
Now, let's dive into how CBD can alleviate anxiety. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters in the body. It regulates various physiological processes, including stress and anxiety. The biochemical processes by which CBD offers relief from anxiety include:
Neurotransmitter Regulation: CBD can enhance the signaling of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with happy mood and well-being.
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid): CBD promotes the activity of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that counteracts excessive neuronal excitation, leading to a calming effect.
Dopamine: By influencing dopamine levels, CBD may help regulate the brain's reward system and reduce the impact of stress on motivation and mood.
The Pitfalls of Pharmaceuticals for Anxiety
Conventional pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety often involve medications such as benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Ativan) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (e.g., Prozac, Zoloft). While these medications can provide relief, they come with potential dangers and side effects. Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming, leading to addiction and withdrawal symptoms. SSRIs may cause side effects like sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and more.
Benzodiazepines: Severe drowsiness. Habit-forming and may lead to addiction and withdrawal.
SSRIs: May cause side effects like sexual dysfunction and weight gain.
Gem: Sex is known to be a good anxiety reliever through the release of endorphins.
CBD vs. THC: A Tale of Two Cousins
CBD and THC, two compounds derived from the cannabis plant, can have divergent effects on anxiety. CBD is non-psychoactive and offers anxiety relief without the "high" associated with THC. In contrast, some THC can decrease anxiety- but it can also intensify anxiety in some individuals, potentially leading to paranoia, physical illness (chest pain, heart palpitations) and an overall bad trip (be careful with edibles).
CBD for Anxiety: Provides a calm and composed approach without mind-altering effects.
THC and Anxiety: May exacerbate anxiety and induce paranoia, particularly at higher doses.
Ways to Take CBD for Anxiety
CBD comes in various forms, each with its own pros and cons. The method of administration depends on your preferences and needs:
Capsules: Convenient and measured approach, though somewhat slower to take effect.
Edibles: Easy to ingest, but the onset may be delayed due to digestion.
Smoking: Offers rapid relief but raises concerns about lung health and long-term effects.
Holistic Approaches to Managing Anxiety
Beyond CBD, holistic methods can complement anxiety management:
Mindfulness Meditation: Fosters self-awareness and emotional regulation.
Yoga: Combines physical exercise and relaxation techniques.
Regular Exercise: Enhances mood and reduces anxiety.
Balanced Diet: Supports overall well-being and mental health.
Adequate Sleep: A cornerstone of emotional stability.
Wrapping it all Up
Anxiety is a common mental health challenge that affects people from all walks of life- you could be an athlete, a doctor or a mom- you’re not immune 🙁. Some may be able to manage it but others may require some assistance or treatment. CBD offers a natural and safe method for managing anxiety, with potential benefits and fewer side effects compared to some pharmaceutical treatments. As you look for help with your anxiety make sure to speak with your doctor and only buy CBD from reputable trusted sources.
Anxiety affects approximately 40 million adults in the United States.
African Americans are 20% more likely to experience severe anxiety than white Americans.
CBD enhances serotonin signaling, contributing to improved mood.
CBD's promotion of GABA activity leads to a calming effect.
THC can intensify anxiety and induce paranoia at higher doses.