Anxiety, as a general human response, serves many important functions. It keeps as vigilant against potential threats, can push us to perform to a higher standard and helps us understand our motivations and fears. Unfortunately, all to often, anxiety can get the better of us, shifting for a functional alarm system to debilitating cognitive prison.
An ‘anxiety disorder’ is when the human body’s natural response to stress, such as fear or apprehension, begins to interfere with one’s life in a disproportionate manner. This is considered chronic when it lasts for a period of three to six consecutive months. However, not all anxiety disorders are experienced equally, nor do they necessarily stem from the same route cause.
Some of the most common anxiety disorders are categorized as follows:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder (PD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Specific Phobias
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder, or PDD
Some of the more specific anxiety disorders, such as PTSD, often have a clearer diagnosis of what lead to the condition (i.e. serious accident, post-combat Veterans etc). However, with conditions such as GAD, is often hard identify the source of the anxiety, which can fuel a downwards spiral of mental health. Unfortunately, it seems, GAD is on the rise, both domestically and abroad.
Specifically, what is causing the increase is still a topic of debate. While women and adults aged under 35, along with those who have other medical conditions were most at risk for anxiety disorders, one of two factors is expanding the patient base;
- External factors such as poor sleep, social media, periodic lock downs, exposure to global events and increased work hours are amplifying risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
- As the stigma around mental health continues to slowly erode, more people (including males and the youth/elderly) are opening up about this anxiety both socially and to medical professionals.
Regardless of the cause, the fact remains that in Australia one in four people (one in three women and one in ﬁve men) will experience anxiety at some stage in their life with, up 5% since the beginning of global COVID 19 pandemic and the ensuing lock downs/rise in unemployment. That translates to over 2.3 million Australians with an anxiety disorders per year with a total of 4 million experiencing an anxiety-related condition. And while anxiety disorders are highly treatable, as little as 35% of those suffering receive treatment. Fortunately, emerging fields such as medicinal cannabis, specifically CBD, are offering relief from the symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Looking at the science, it has been established that Cannabidiol (CBD) interacts with the cannabinoid type 1 receptor (CB1R), the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, and other receptors in the brain. These are all part of the human endocannabinoid system that regulate fear and anxiety-induced behaviours.
As the science becomes clearer, an increase in global studies are demonstrating that CBD can help with specific anxiety disorders; for example, PTSD symptoms, such as having nightmares and replaying negative memories, significantly reducing. In fact, a recent study out of the USA saw 70% of study participants report some level of satisfaction with CBD treatment, ranging from good to excellent.
CBD for anxiety is generally orally administered through oils, edibles, or capsules, with the effects being felt within 30 minutes to 2 hours. The dosage frequency of the medicine is something that should be discussed with your doctor. While those who suffer from mild anxiety may be satisfied with a few drops in the evening to assist with sleep, other will need to work closely with their doctors, therapists and support network to ensure the correct administration for optimal results.
Moreover, patients have the option of CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum CBD. The main difference here comes down to the purity of the CBD (spoiler: purity isn’t also preferable). CBD Isolate, as the name suggest, contains only the Cannabidiol and a carrier oil (i.e. MCT or peanut oil) where as Full Spectrum CBD contains a plethora of other cannabinoids, terpenes, or healthy fatty acids from the plant. The obvious benefit of an isolate is the elimination of risk pertaining to the consumption of THC. This is particularly important for those who are subject to drug tests (i.e. athletes, miners etc) or those who many experience an increase in anxiety when under the influence of THC. Conversely, many advocates in the medicinal cannabis industry strongly advocate for full spectrum products dye to the increased efficacy provide by the Entourage Effect.
The bottom line, as per the usual in the CBD industry, is that while there is overwhelming anecdotal and mounding clinical evidence to support its efficacy in treating anxiety disorders, more research is required. As it stands in Australia, any form of CBD requires a prescription for a certified doctor, even for isolates or to treat more mild forms of anxiety.
If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety, a Canwell Australia doctor will be able to advice is medicinal cannabis is a suitable option.