Feeling anxious is a big part of life, and the excitement or suspense you may feel before a big date or a special performance can make the event feel more special. Similarly, it is only natural to feel a compelling sense of urgency and concern about meeting financial responsibilities, addressing health concerns, or taking an exam of great importance. Worry and concern are lighter and more common forms of anxiety.
Then, there are natural fears that can cause people to have inordinate levels of apprehension to certain experiences and perceived threats, such as roller coasters, driving on narrow mountain roads, snakes, injections, spiders, and other scenarios that terrify some, while others find them perfectly mundane. As a matter of fact, just about everyone has something in their life that can make them feel worried and uncomfortable to some degree––it’s all part of how you know what is comfortable and ideal for you, personally.
However, when these concerns, and responses to the environment begin to adversely affect regular life and decrease individual capacity to enjoy life, this could be a sign that the feelings you are experiencing are more than just occasional fear or worry.
Signs of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders, like most mental conditions, can only properly be diagnosed by a knowledgeable health professional, and some of the signs of anxiety are often shared with other disorders. Some symptoms that are shared by all of these conditions include uncontrollable fears, worry, and nervousness.
Anxiety can also trigger the fight-or-flight response, which prepares the body to deal with perceived danger. This causes the following physical symptoms:
- Pounding heart
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
- Shaking or trembling
- Muscle tension or twitches
Because physical symptoms are easier to identify than fears and worries, many people visit their doctor assuming that their conditions are purely physical.1
CBD for Anxiety Relief
Using cannabidiol (CBD) for anxiety relief has been shown to provide several important benefits. CBD acts as a tonic for the nervous system that reduces some of the strain caused by the stress response through a range of mechanisms that are highlighted below.2
Agonist for 5-HT1A Receptors
CBD modulates the activity of the 5-HT1A receptors and increases the production and release of dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine in the brain. This helps counteract feelings of fear and stress while promoting neurogenesis.3
Inverse Agonist for CB1/CB2 Receptors
By affecting the function of the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoids system, CBD may reduce inflammation and provide some relief to pain.4 Though this does not necessarily provide direct anxiety relief, pain can often be cause for anxiety, meaning that this function can indirectly relieve some anxiety symptoms.
Allosteric Modulator at Mu/Delta Opioid Receptor Sites
While researchers are still learning about how the mu-opioid and delta-opioid receptors can reduce anxiety, studies have shown that CBD can help bring about this effect by acting as an allosteric modulator at mu and delta-opioid receptor sites.5,6
It has been postulated that one way to counter the effects of anxiety is through neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampal region. Some of the activities that CBD has on brain processes can lead to this very effect.7,8,9
Additional Benefits of CBD
In addition to the biological mechanisms by which CBD can alleviate anxiety, additional elements of CBD could also potentially prove useful for individuals seeking anxiety relief.
Some experts propose that CBD may be a suitable complementary treatment for other anxiety medications or treatment plans because it has been shown to have an especially calming effect on the body.10
No Psychoactive Effects
Conventional anxiolytics can cause drowsiness, depression, or other impairment to cognitive functions. CBD has no such actions, and many in individuals report feeling alert and at peace while taking CBD.11
While CBD will not cause a euphoric high, there is at least anecdotal evidence that suggests that CBD can boost mood.
Sleep Quality Boost
Nothing can rob sweet sleep like stress and worry. CBD has the capacity to fine-tune the body’s chemical process by improving homeostasis. This can be a great support to efforts to improve sleep quality.12
Better Capacity for Public Speaking
Some people are fully aware that their fears are irrational, like the petrifying fear that can grip some normally confident folks when making a speech in front of an audience. CBD has been found to affect this response and may have applications in similar scenarios.13
Anxiety can be a debilitating condition and even current treatment plans can’t completely resolve all anxiety symptoms. Because of this, research efforts to find additional methods of anxiety relief are especially important, and research about CBD’s capacity to relieve anxiety is one avenue that has demonstrated potential.
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Of course, CBD is not currently an alternative to current anxiety treatment methods like medication or talk therapy, but it has the potential to be an effective complement. With time, it may be able to have an even more important role.
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