CBD for Anxiety: Can It Help Manage Symptoms?
There is a difference between anxiety symptoms and living with clinical anxiety daily. Life can be full of stressors and challenges, but we learn what works best to cope with those feelings over time. And recognize when we are under duress so we can take steps to care for ourselves. That may include exploring CBD for anxiety.
There are different levels of anxiety disorders ranked on a scale from mild to severe. Anxiety can be diagnosed by a primary care provider (PCP) with the use of psychological surveys like the “Beck Depression Inventory.”
Do you think you may have clinical anxiety? Mental Health America (MHA) provides a free online test you can take. And then, show the results to your physician to discuss, and create a new treatment plan.
The first and most important thing to understand is that anxiety disorders are a medical condition, not a choice. Researchers still do not understand why some people develop clinical anxiety because it can be linked to hereditary personality type and social environment.
Clinical anxiety cannot be cured. But for patients who are living with anxiety, there are a variety of treatment options that can help. And reduce the severity of symptoms they experience. One of those options in many states is doctor-supervised medical cannabis. But many patients also explore CBD for anxiety as well.
The Four Types of Anxiety Disorders
Your anxiety symptoms are unique to you. But there are common symptoms that you can look out for, that you can talk to your doctor about. One of the signs of clinical anxiety is persistent or recurring symptoms that disrupt your activities of daily living. And prevent you from doing the things you want to do.
It is important to learn more about anxiety symptoms. Especially when you are trying to determine if you need counseling and help from a physician, some signs of anxiety can be confused with other health conditions, making diagnosing clinical anxiety that much harder.
There are four main types of anxiety disorders:
1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
In the United States, approximately 3.1% of the population (almost 7 million) may have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Unfortunately, it is also estimated that over 40% of people with GAD are unaware of their condition. And they have not been diagnosed.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms can include persistent worrying and disproportionate concern or rumination (thinking the issue is worse). Overthinking and predicting dire or negative consequences and outcomes are common symptoms for patients with GAD.
2. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Everyone can feel a little nervous meeting someone new for the first time. But how can you tell whether you have a social anxiety disorder? The symptoms can include an intense fear of talking to people you don’t know. And all the signs of nervousness, including blushing, trembling, raspy voice, stuttering, and profuse sweating.
People who have social anxiety disorder are fearful of being embarrassed. And they will often go out of their way to avoid engaging or communicating with someone they don’t know. They may share the fact that they have SAD with close friends and family, who can support them in social situations. But patients are unlikely to disclose social anxiety disorder if they do not know or trust an individual.
Social anxiety disorders can start appearing early in childhood. Or they can develop later in adulthood caused by a very stressful incident. Which can make the individual feel stressed about all social engagement.
3. Panic Disorder
Few things can be as scary as a panic attack. And if you have experienced one (or they happen often), you know that they can sometimes require immediate intervention. Because it is not just your brain that is experiencing tremendous anxiety; it’s your whole body.
Symptoms of panic disorder can include heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, and chest pain. Some medications used to treat panic disorder are SSRIs, including Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
4. Generalized Phobias
Phobias are not usually treated with prescription medications. That is because, for the most part, phobias are situational. If you have a clinical phobia about snakes, for example, you’re unlikely to stop by a roadside reptile attraction. You have some degree of control to avoid the things you are afraid of.
Generalized phobias are a little easier to control than other types of anxiety disorders. And many patients respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and desensitization therapies.
What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
Situational anxiety is normal. And eventually, the feelings of anxiety pass as we resolve our problem. But for people living with anxiety, it is much more complicated. Because pressure can make you react to both present situations and past experiences. As well as impair your ability to lower your level of stress.
If you have been diagnosed with clinical anxiety, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms and behaviors:
Unless you really know someone, it can be hard to tell if they have anxiety because most of the symptoms are down-low and not easily recognizable. When someone with anxiety is upset, the first response they usually hear is “calm down.” But that can be difficult (if not impossible) when you have clinical anxiety.
Circumstances seem dire when you have anxiety. That means something you experience may be more upsetting when it happens to you than it would be for someone else. Anxiety can cause emotional hypersensitivity.
Or in other words, anxiety can make a small problem or incident seem much larger and more upsetting. And people around you (family, friends, or coworkers) may not understand why you feel anxious. In fact, you may not understand it either. You just know that you are feeling symptoms of fear and panic and an urgency to resolve what is upsetting you, even if you do not know how.
Sleep Disruption and Insomnia
One common symptom for people with anxiety is insomnia. Over time, because you may not want to have to explain why you are feeling stressed, you may learn to internalize it. That way, fewer people will see your symptoms of anxiety.
The problem with internalizing feelings of anxiety is that the emotions have to go somewhere. They are not emotionally discharged, and many patients develop an internal narrative or dialogue. A voice in their head that keeps the conversation (and worry) going as they try to process their anxiety.
Quality sleep is a challenge for many. But imagine trying to fall asleep when your mind is busy worrying about the things triggering your anxiety. It can get loud in your head when you have a clinical concern. And some patients have problems falling asleep and achieving deep restorative sleep (REM) because of their worries.
Staying asleep is an even bigger problem. Because while your body may be able to turn in and relax, the brain remains active. Like a computer trying to solve problems or concerns, the human brain never rests. And you can frequently wake up in the middle of the night.
Difficulty With Focus and Concentration
People with anxiety often describe their internal thoughts as “loud” or overactive. And a good way to think about it is
Since anxiety can cause insomnia and sleep problems, focus and concentration can also be impaired. You can feel mentally exhausted when you are not well rested and have chronic sleep disruptions. And that can make concentrating and learning new things more difficult.
Chronic Fatigue and Irritability
You went to bed earlier than usual, but you still wake up feeling tired? What gives? Chronic fatigue is a very common symptom of clinical anxiety. Studies of adults with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) suggest a strong link between anxiety and sleep problems.
No matter how many hours of sleep you think you are getting, your brain and body can’t recharge, especially if you are tossing and turning all night. Chronic fatigue can also be caused by other factors such as health conditions, prescription medications, an imbalanced diet, etc.
Mild to moderate mood disorders and irritability can also be common symptoms when you have anxiety. Tired with poor quality sleep and mental fatigue can be overwhelming for many people. And it is not hard to understand how that could impact energy and mood.
Nausea and Stomach Upset
When you are upset, your body releases Cortisol and other hormones into your bloodstream. That triggers a chain reaction of responses in your body called the “fight or flight” syndrome.
Stress and anxiety can cause nausea and excessive acidity in the digestive tract. One of the risks of untreated anxiety is the development of other gastrointestinal (GI) issues. That can include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), acid reflux, or stomach ulcers.
Using CBD for anxiety may also help with nausea and GI problems. Cannabidiol has been shown in some clinical studies to reduce gastrointestinal inflammation.
Persistent Feelings of Worry
Dealing with upsetting thoughts or stress on the daily can be challenging for everyone. But when you have anxiety, you may be thinking about upsetting things from the past. Or, in some cases, what will happen in the future.
People with moderate to severe anxiety don’t get much of a break regarding emotional stress. And they can worry even more about future outcomes or things that haven’t yet happened.
Excessive worry about the future is called anticipatory anxiety. And the symptoms of anxiety can be just a strong (and disruptive) for problems that “may happen” in the future, which can have a detrimental effect on everyday functioning.
The Expectation of Negative Consequences and Outcomes
When you have anxiety, you may think of the worst-case scenario. That is a common way that people with anxiety self-soothe to some extent. If you can imagine the worst, you can create a contingency plan. Or a way to deal with it if a bad thing occurs in the future.
It sounds like a pretty good strategy that could protect you from unexpected problems. At least you will have a game plan in place, right? The problem for people with anxiety is that the worst-case scenario they imagine can be very negative. Maybe worse than what other people without anxiety would visualize.
If you have clinical anxiety, it is not always possible to control the feelings or symptoms you experience. But there are many options to help you learn self-care strategies to help you cope when the symptoms strike.
Measuring Your Level of Anxiety
Everyone has symptoms of anxiety from time to time. Life can get stressful, and we never know what challenges the day may hold for us. But how can you tell if you have transient or situational anxiety versus clinical anxiety?
It starts with an appointment with a physician to determine if you have the symptoms of clinical anxiety. A practitioner can administer surveys or tests to not only confirm whether you have clinical anxiety but to determine the level of severity. And then help you build a treatment plan to make symptom management easier for you. Which may include CBD for anxiety, on a daily basis.
Health Risks Linked to Chronic Anxiety
Worldwide clinical studies have linked chronic or clinical anxiety to increased risks of developing health problems. That is because mental and physical health is inseparable and impacts the body differently.
Some studies suggest that people with poorly controlled clinical anxiety may develop health complications, including:
- Increased risk of suicide or self-harm
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Compromised immune system
- Dental problems (teeth grinding)
- Increased risk of cardiovascular problems (heart attack or stroke)
Just because anxiety is an incurable condition doesn’t mean there are no treatments for it. Many patients receive a combination of pharmacotherapy (medications) and talk therapy (counseling). People with anxiety can also explore alternative medicine (such as doctor-supervised cannabis) and cannabidiol (CBD) supplements.
How-To Use CBD for Anxiety Symptom Management
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp and Sativa plants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests to confirm how CBD can help people with anxiety and other medical conditions.
Many clinical studies suggest that cannabidiol can benefit people with anxiety. Taking a full-spectrum CBD supplement may help with all anxiety disorders, including GAD, panic attacks, OCD and PTSD.
Cannabidiol (CBD) can also be used with doctor-supervised medical marijuana. Full-spectrum CBD has anxiogenic (anxiety-reducing) properties that can also help moderate symptoms of paranoia or anxiety caused by Delta-9 THC (marijuana).
Talk to your physician about adding a cannabidiol supplement to your treatment plan. Some formulations have terpenes to promote energy and calmness that are good for daytime use. And other types of cannabidiol supplements that can help you unwind, relax and get restorative sleep.
Aaron Bloom serves as the CEO, overseeing the mission and growth of DocMJ and Medwell Health and Wellness Centers. Aaron’s passion for improving patients’ lives comes from his background in health care. For more than 20 years, Aaron owned, operated, and represented traditional healthcare organizations. This experience created a passion for finding improved ways to relieve suffering. His goal as CEO is to work daily to relieve all patients who seek better health and wellness through the medicinal benefits of medical cannabis and evidence-based alternative medicines.