CBD helps many conditions and ailments. Yet, the one condition many people associate with CBD is the way it’s seen to help anxiety. We wanted to take a look at how medical cannabis may be an alternative to typical anxiety medications.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, like a constant feeling of worry or fear which can be either mild, moderate or severe. Most people have some feelings of anxiety at some point in their lives. People may feel worried or anxious about many things in their lives like school, job interviews, family situations. Anxiety is not being able to control your worries and is constant which affects day to day life.
Anxiety is often difficult to diagnose. Often, in some cases it is difficult to distinguish from other mental health conditions like depression. The key signs to know if someone is suffering from anxiety is if for example their worries are extremely stressful and upsetting, they worry about all sorts of things and have a tendency to think the worst or their worrying becomes uncontrollable.
Symptoms of Anxiety
The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person, often people have only 1 to 2 symptoms whilst others have more. There are two types of symptoms people with anxiety may experience – psychological symptoms and physical symptoms.
Anxiety can change a person’s behaviour and the way they think and feel about things, this may cause symptoms like
– A sense of dread
– Constantly feeling on ‘edge’
– Difficulty concentrating
Those who suffer from anxiety find it difficult and stressful going to work. This may cause even more worry and have a big impact on a person’s self-esteem.
As well as psychological symptoms anxiety also comes with some physical symptoms, although not every one may experience physical symptoms all the time. The physical symptoms include;
– A noticeably strong, fast irregular heartbeat
– Muscle aches and tension
– Trembling or shaking
– Dry mouth
– Excessive sweating
– Shortness of breath
– Stomach ache
– Feeling sick
– Pins and needles
– Difficulty sleeping
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There are a number of treatments available for anxiety such as self-help therapies, psychological treatment or medication.
When a person is first diagnosed with anxiety their GP may suggest trying an individual self-help course for a month or two to see if it may help people to learn to cope with their anxiety. This may be beneficial if someone has quite a low level of anxiety, but for someone who has quite severe anxiety this may be difficult for them.
A psychological treatment is usually advised before trying medications . Psychological treatments may consist of two different treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and applied relaxation.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
CBT is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. Studies on different treatments for anxiety suggest that the benefits of CBT may last longer than medications. The idea of CBT is that it helps people to understand how your problems, thoughts, feelings and behaviour affect each other. It also helps people to question their own negative and anxious thoughts.
This method of treatment for anxiety is just as effective as CBT. Applied relaxation focuses on relaxing your muscles in a particular way during situations that usually cause anxiety. This technique takes about 3-4 months to make any progress.
Not all treatments are for everyone and although CBT or applied relaxation may be the best for anxiety it may not work for all people. This is where the medications come in. There are a variety of medications available for people who suffer from anxiety. It all depends on the severity of a person’s anxiety. There are also a lot of things to consider when thinking about taking medications such as;
– Possible side effects
– Length of the treatment
– Possible interactions with other medicines
The few different types of medications that are available are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and pregabalin. These medications may have similar side effects which include:
– Feeling sick
– Dry mouth
– Increase or decrease of appetite
For those where treatment like CBT or applied relaxation doesn’t work, these medications may be their only option even though they add to the symptoms they may already experience.
How does CBD work with Anxiety?
Excessive use of cannabis can cause anxiety in itself, as constant use of marijuana (containing THC) is what gives people the ‘high’ feeling and may cause anxiety. This is why CBD is different as it doesn’t contain any THC. Studies of CBD suggest that it has anti-anxiety properties.
THC is the compound within the cannabis plant which gives people the ‘high’ feeling. Most people associate cannabis with this because it is what most people use recreationally.
Due to UK laws, any CBD products in the UK can only be available for sale with no more than 0.2% THC added to it. Despite some CBD products containing THC, it won’t result in you feeling ‘high’ as the dose is so little.
People who suffer from anxiety tend to have an endocannabinoid system dysfunction. The compounds found in CBD can help to activate the CB1 receptors which are typically found in the brain. This will help to restore balance within the endocannabinoid system and may help to relieve some of the symptoms felt by anxiety. CBD as a treatment for anxiety is one that’s been around for thousands of years.
Medical cannabis, through recent studies, shows that it may be an effective alternative to anxiety medications. With its minimal side effects, it’s easy to understand why more and more people who suffer from anxiety are turning towards CBD for relief.