Worry, panic, fear, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and insomnia. You or someone you know likely experiences one or more of these symptoms regularly as these are common ways the body reacts to anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million or 18.1%, of adult Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder (https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics). An estimated 31.9% of kids ages 13-18 also have anxiety disorders (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml). The most common disorders stemming from anxiety are general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, countless other people are not diagnosed with an actual disorder but suffer anxious feelings periodically. Anxiety is an epidemic in our country that has left so many people suffering without great options for treatment.
Although being in a state of anxiety can be useful, as it keeps us on our toes and propels us through dangerous situations, it becomes disruptive when it becomes our go to reaction. Anxiety is caused and perpetuated by a variety of factors. First and foremost, anxiety is a reaction to stress from common, everyday life circumstances such as work, school, relationships, and finances. Unfortunately, many people experience some kind of trauma in their lives and that can also lead to chronic anxiety. Additionally, anxiety can be caused by certain health issues, such as hyperthyroidism or other hormone imbalances, low blood sugar, calcium imbalances, and certain heart problems. Left untreated, anxiety disrupts people’s performance at work and school, their ability to be in social situations, and the quality of their relationships.
For those who do seek treatment, the most common prescribed solutions to date have been psychotherapy and pharmaceutical drugs. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, such as Xanax and Klonopin are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs. Pharmaceuticals can be very effective at providing relief from anxious feelings, but unfortunately, they often come with the price of unpleasant side effects. Additionally, with so many kids receiving prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications, many young people are using these drugs recreationally.
The good news is that CBD, a non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis, has been shown in studies to be effective at helping to alleviate anxious feelings. One of the ways CBD reduces feelings of anxiety is by interacting with key receptors in our endocannabinoid system to help regulate behaviors that are associated with fear and anxiety (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22729452). CBD also interacts with parts of the brain that play key roles in moderating anxiety. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/). It is important to note, however, that CBD’s effects on anxiety are bi-phasic. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22729452). This means that at low doses, it will help alleviate anxious feelings, but at high doses it could actually induce anxiety.
CBD could prove to be beneficial for many people suffering from anxiety. At Humboldt Apothecary, we consider CBD use to be one part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and getting out in nature can be very effective at reducing and preventing anxiety. Limiting caffeine intake and not skipping meals can also help. Do what you can to improve your bedtime routine and get more sleep. In this busy world we live in, many of us overcommit ourselves which can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to commit to less and create more down time in your day. Sometimes simply taking several deep breaths can help reverse those elevated feelings of fear and worry. There is no single easy answer to eliminating anxiety, so try several approaches and see what works best for you!