Anxiety impacts 18% of adults in the U.S. each year. And even though anxiety disorders are very treatable, only a little over a third of people get medical treatment.
So let’s talk about anxiety: what it is, when to have a conversation with your healthcare provider, and how CBD can impact it.
VIP Note: CBD will not “cure” your anxiety. Clinical research is limited at this point and more studies are needed to ascertain the long-term benefits and risks of CBD oil.
Also, if you are experiencing feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression, talk to your healthcare provider to find out the best treatment choices for you.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is your body’s reaction to situations perceived as stressful or dangerous. Anxiety is a normal component of life for the majority of folks.
But those with anxiety disorders experience more than temporary worry or fear.
The exact causes are unknown, but researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role.
When to Talk to a Healthcare Professional for Your Anxiety
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should talk to your physician about your anxiety if:
- You think you worry too much and it’s impacting your work, relationships or other parts of your life.
- Your anxiety, fear, or worry is upsetting to you and difficult to control.
- You are experiencing depression, having issues with alcohol or drug abuse, or dealing with additional mental health issues along with your anxiety.
- You believe your anxiety may be associated with another physical health issue.
- You are experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Please ask someone you trust for help or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) if you’re feeling this way!
Don’t attempt to treat your anxiety on your own if you’re experiencing any of these. Your anxiety may not go away on its own, and could potentially become worse over time if you do not get help.
How Anxiety Has Affected Me Personally
After talking to my healthcare provider and attempting several different treatment methods (including prescription medications) to help decrease my anxiety, these were the ten strategies that had the largest impact for me:
- Eat a well-balanced diet with adequate fruits, vegetables, lean meats (or beans/grains), and healthy fats. Low blood sugar, poor hydration, use of alcohol, caffeine, and smoking can also precipitate or mimic symptoms of anxiety. Eating regular meals and preventing hypoglycemic states are therefore incredibly important to help quell feelings of anxiety. . Adequately hydrating with plain water is also important, at least six to eight glasses a day. Avoiding processed foods and foods high in sugar means the body experiences fewer highs and lows of blood sugar, which helps to further reduce feelings of anxiety. Very simply put, a sugar rush can mimic a panic attack.
- Drink booze in moderation (or not at all). People who feel anxiety may lean on alcohol to calm their nerves, but excessive drinking can lead to its own set of emotional and physical problems. Many sodas contain caffeine and have a high sugar content. Being aware of these factors and substituting plain water or sparkling water for soda can be a healthier option. Having one or two drinks each day could help you live longer, according to some studies; however, the issue with trying to reduce your anxiety using alcohol is that those who do so have a higher likelihood of developing an addiction.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Writing down things you’re thankful for is one of the simplest ways to feel better about yourself. It can help nudge your thoughts away from what’s not working well so you can keep your attention honed in on what is.
- Make fitness a priority. Working out is a keystone habit–one of those behaviors that leads to other healthy habits. When you’re feeling anxiety, exercise is one of the easiest ways to feel better.
- Breathe. Research shows that deep breathing can help lower cortisol, a stress hormone your body produces when you’re anxious, and reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. There are many different deep breathing techniques you can try but here’s one of the easiest: Find get comfortable and find a quiet spot. Sit or lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees. Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air. Breathe out through your nose. Place one hand on your belly. As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. Take at least 3 full, deep breaths.
- Create something. Find your creative outlet, and harness it every day. Don’t think you’re creative? Guess again. Maybe you like to write, cook, play an instrument, garden … these are just a few examples. Flexing your creative chops lets you learn and improve every single day. That leads to the type of fulfillment that can help make a big difference with your anxiety levels. It certainly has helped mine.
- Make sleep a priority. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you are probably making your anxiety worse, according to research. If you struggle with sleep, check out our article on how to use CBD to sleep better. One more thing to note: taking a 25-mg full spectrum CBD gel capsule an hour before I want to fall asleep each night has helped me immensely. I tracked my sleep for 30 days before and after doing this, and learned that CBD helped reduce the time it took me to fall asleep, increase my amount of REM sleep, and decreased the amount of time it takes me to fall back asleep whenever I wake up during the night.
- Go enjoy the great outdoors. Research has shown that enjoying nature can significantly lessen anxiety and stress levels. If you begin to feel anxious, go take a walk, preferably somewhere outside with plants and trees around. But even if you’re stuck in the office, a quick walk outside around the block can help.
- Try CBD. CBD may be able to help lessen your anxiety (although more research is definitely needed). I use CBD oil on days when I feel anxious and stressed and it has made a difference.
- Spend quality time with friends and family. There are few ways to feel better than spending time with those you love (unless your loved ones are the cause of your anxiety, which is actually quite common). Regardless, talking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling can definitely help you feel better.
CBD Oil and Anxiety
While research studies on the effects of CBD for anxiety is in its early stages, there have been some small studies done:
- A 1993 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD could have anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties for those experiencing stressful situations.
- A 2011 research study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD may help reduce anxiety in those suffering from social anxiety disorder.
- A 2015 study published in the journal Neurotherapeutics found that CBD may help improve the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- A 2015 study published in the journal Schizophrenia Research suggested that CBD could assist those with schizophrenia and other mental disorders by reducing psychotic symptoms.
- A 2019 study that followed 72 adults with anxiety or poor sleep found that anxiety scores decreased in the first month in 79 percent of people who took 25 mg of CBD via capsule form each day.
- The CBD Project surveyed more than 3,500 people who took CBD and concluded that CBD may help relieve symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks, mood swings, and feelings of agitation, irritability, and sadness.
If you have anxiety the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. He or she can help you better understand what type of anxiety you’re suffering from and then recommend the right treatment options for your specific condition(s).
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
CBD oil may help ease symptoms of anxiety for some … but it’s definitely not a cure for anxiety. We need more placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical studies to better understand its long-term impacts and side effects.
Now that CBD is a multi-billion dollar industry, hopefully, we start to see more and more studies come to fruition.