Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but for many people, the frequency and degree of panic can become so great that daily life is negatively impacted. Roughly 40 million adults in the United States suffer from ongoing anxiety, making anxiety disorders one of the most common mental health issues.
While severe cases greatly benefit from doctor-prescribed medication, people who experience panic attacks may also benefit from using CBD. After all, research supports the potential benefits CBD can have on a variety of anxiety conditions from generalized anxiety disorders to PTSD and even insomnia.
CBD is not a passing fad; it’s been used for nearly 12,000 years across the globe for its natural healing properties. Over 50% of those using CBD regularly do so to relieve anxiety or depression symptoms. Anyone who experiences anxiety knows that panic attacks can often run side by side as one of the most debilitating symptoms.
Substantial evidence shows that adding CBD to your daily or nightly routine can make a big impact in diminishing panic attacks and anxiety. This article will give you the insight you need to know where to start in your CBD journey.
Although CBD can help calm anxiety for many people, it should not be your only tool for addressing panic attacks. Speak to a counselor or medical professional to create a multi-prong approach to handling panic attacks and other anxiety-related symptoms.
How CBD Works to Soothe Anxiety and Lessen Panic Attacks
The short explanation is that CBD can help lessen the likelihood of panic attacks occurring in the first place, as they can assist with putting users in a calmer headspace and elevating overall mood. But how? To better understand CBD’s relationship with panic attacks, it’s helpful to dive into how it interacts with your body.
How does CBD work within the body to help anxiety?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Unlike THC which alters your mental state and can make you feel “high”, CBD does not contain psychoactive properties. So how does CBD help with anxiety and panic attacks?
CBD is helpful for anxiety attacks due to its calming effects on the nervous system. By interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is an intricate network of receptors, lipids, and enzymes, regular use of CBD can reduce panic and anxiety attacks. The ECS is responsible for creating and maintaining balance in the body and largely impacts your nervous system and mental balance.
Studies have proven that CBD can offer therapeutic benefits for those who suffer from anxiety disorders due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Within the endocannabinoid system exist receptors that naturally bind with CBD.
CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, creating a positive impact on your central nervous system and overall mood. Additional aspects of CBD’s natural healing qualities include that it is rich in antioxidants, decreases pain sensation and inflammation, and can greatly assist with insomnia.
Because CBD impacts the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in your mental health, you may find that symptoms of anxiety dissipate due to regular CBD use. Along with impacting serotonin, CBD also enhances the release of dopamine, which is known as the brain's happy hormone. Both hormones promote relaxation, decrease stress, and can promote a positive mood.
How does CBD work within the body to help prevent panic attacks?
The endocannabinoid system communicates through a process of neurotransmitters that connect to special receptors, resulting in a wide variety of balancing effects that can positively decrease panic symptoms. Through improving mood, stress levels, immune function, and sleep, CBD works with your body and brain to produce calming effects throughout your system.
One study from the National Library of Medicine looked at CBD as an alternative to SSRI medications for treating anxiety disorders. This research indicates that CBD exhibits anti-panic properties, is safe, and well-tolerated. Some people with anxiety may be able to manage their panic attacks with CBD instead of prescription SSRI medications. However, you should always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan for all mental health conditions.
Can CBD help with other anxiety disorders?
Through its interaction with receptors throughout the body, CBD can offer a natural and effective treatment for a variety of anxiety-related issues, but consistency and a routine are part of its success.
CBD may also benefit people who suffer from other types of anxiety such as social anxiety disorder (SAD), anxiety-induced insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research shows that CBD can provide relief for PTSD symptoms such as frequent nightmares and repetitive thoughts, offering additional relief along with other forms of care.
CBD is not an “in-the-moment” solution for panic attacks, but rather an ingredient you need to add to your daily routine to lessen the likelihood of anxiety and panic attacks. The soothing benefits of CBD are best suited for preventing panic symptoms from escalating rather than trying to manage the onset of panic attacks.
CBD helps with anxiety-related sleep issues
Addressing insomnia is another power play that CBD offers. Many people find regular use of CBD to not only improve the quality and quantity of sleep but also assist in regulating REM cycles. Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows that lack of sleep increases anxious and panicked feelings, but it is challenging to fall and stay asleep when your mind is racing. It can become a never-ending cycle.
The hypothalamus, which plays a significant role in the endocannabinoid system, largely impacts sleep by regulating body temperature and synchronizing sleep patterns. CBD can help people with insomnia because it works with the hypothalamus to create balance in your system and reduce stress.
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FAQ About Using CBD for Panic Attacks
Can teens use CBD for panic attacks?
Some studies suggest that CBD may have potential benefits for teenagers in terms of calming the nervous system and reducing panic attacks. If your teenager is experiencing elevated anxiety, we suggest talking with a mental health professional to help shape a multi-faceted approach to addressing panic attacks and potentially diagnosing any underlying issues.
To learn more, read CBD for Teens - Is it Safe, Legality & Tips.
What’s the most effective way to use CBD to address panic attacks?
Taking CBD sublingually is the most effective way to address panic attacks and anxiety. Placing CBD oil under your tongue and holding it for 60-90 seconds before swallowing allows the healing elements within CBD oil to quickly absorb into your bloodstream.
Small capillaries in your mouth absorb the CBD and can bypass the digestive system by directly entering the blood vessels in your mouth. For many people, ingesting CBD sublingually can directly and effectively relieve anxiety and panic if used regularly.
What type of CBD works best for anxiety?
It is important to note that full-spectrum CBD is the most effective form of CBD to help with anxiety and panic attacks. Full-spectrum CBD contains all the beneficial compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant including trace amounts of THC. The interaction between these components enhances their properties creating what is called the "entourage effect".
The entourage effect creates feelings of relaxation, pain relief, improved sleep, reduction of anxiety, and improved mood. Other forms of CBD such as CBD isolate do not contain the beneficial compounds such as phytocannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant that are necessary to relieve symptoms of panic and anxiety.
Will CBD cause any sort of mental impairment or “high?”
CBD is not an intoxicating substance and will not make you feel “high”. Even though THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, they affect different receptors in the brain and produce different outcomes. CBD provides natural calming and healing properties without the negative side effects or a risk of addiction. No need to worry about the levels of THC in CBD, they won’t cause mental impairment or intoxication.
Should you combine CBD with anti-anxiety medications?
If you are currently taking prescription medication for anxiety and panic attacks, you should consult with your doctor before adding CBD into the mix. CBD can be combined with certain medications, but others may cause safety or effectiveness issues. Possible side effects of combining CBD with anti-anxiety medications include increased fatigue and sleepiness.
By Emily Wegener
With a unique background as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Masters Degree in Teaching and experience in Psychology, Emily spends much of her time researching and trying out new holistic healing modalities.