CBD for Anxiety: Does it Help and What Do Studies Say?

CBD is known as a source of natural pain relief for many ailments. In addition to physical conditions, many are interested in using CBD for chronic mental health issues, too. Most often, the interest in CBD for mental health lies in treating anxiety. 

But does it work for anxiety, and is there any proof? Many report relaxation and an improved mental state when taking CBD for anxiety

Are you using CBD for Anxiety: How Does it Work?

Treating mental health concerns successfully involves interacting with receptors in your brain and body. These chemical receptors are attached to your cells and receive signals from different stimuli.

With CBD, it’s believed that cannabidiol interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. These particular receptors exist in the central and peripheral nervous systems, respectively. While it’s not entirely understood how cannabidiol affects CB1 receptors in the brain, it’s suspected to alter serotonin signals. 

Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter. It plays a significant role in maintaining healthy moods. When serotonin levels are low, it often results in depression and anxiety.

Many take synthetic prescription medications to treat low serotonin (SSRIs). These medications help increase serotonin in the brain, so mood improves and is stabilized over time. 

However, people with anxiety successfully manage their anxiety using CBD as a natural alternative medicine over SSRIs. Some SSRIs are not an ideal option, as they worry they won’t feel like themselves anymore. Since stabilized moods often lead to increased happiness levels, many also express concern about getting their “happiness” from a pill. 

Studies on CBD for Anxiety Show Promising Results 

Although anxiety is a general term, there are a variety of types of anxiety. Some common ones include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety-Induced Insomnia
  • And more…

While these are all types of anxiety, they are experienced in different ways for different reasons. Fortunately, various studies show beneficial results for multiple types of anxiety. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found positive results when using CBD on rats. Study subjects showed reduced stress. They also showed overall reduced anxiety behaviors for physical anxiety symptoms like heart rate. 

In human trials, CBD has also been proved effective for reducing symptoms caused by GAD.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

Studies by the NIDA and psychopharmacology scholars show promising results when using CBD for Social Anxiety Disorder. 

A 2011 CBD anxiety study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology looked at the results of participants who were given CBD or a placebo to treat SAD symptoms. Those who received the CBD dosage showed overall reduced SAD signs. Thus, the study concluded that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD, notably because of CBD’s effects on limbic and paralimbic brain activity. 

A 2018 study also looked at human subjects who received CBD before a public speaking test. Results showed that those who took CBD 90-minutes before the trial experienced a marked reduction in their anxiety symptoms surrounding the test.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Since PTSD tends to be a significant problem for anyone who suffers from it, several studies have looked at the effects of CBD on PTSD symptoms. One study found that CBD can help with some of the significant PTSD symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks. It also helps with physical anxiety-like symptoms too. 

One important aspect the study notes is the minimal side effects of CBD compared to synthetic medications on PTSD patients. However, the study also looked at CBD as a supplement to traditional medication and therapy. It will likely come down to an individual’s needs, preferences, and reactions. 

Anxiety-Induced Insomnia

Interestingly, the same PTSD study mentioned above also references positive CBD and insomnia or anxiety-related sleep issues. 

Studies in rats show that CBD can increase sleep duration and depth while decreasing anxiety responses that cause sleep disturbances. Some human studies report 65% of participants having some improvement in their sleep and over 70% of participants showing an overall anxiety reduction when taking CBD before bed.

Of course, more CBD anxiety studies need to be done on humans to understand further precisely how CBD works in the body to treat anxiety symptoms. Yet, so far, the results are exciting and promising. 

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