Is CBD a Better Option For Treating Anxiety Disorders?

UPDATED ON MARCH 6, 2019

Anxiety Statistics

If you suffer from anxiety, you are not alone.

  • According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 40 million people in the United States experience some form of anxiety disorder each year.
  • Only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder are receiving treatment.
  • The World Health Organization reports that 1 in 13 people worldwide has some form of an anxiety disorder.
  • Anxiety related disorders are the most common mental disorders worldwide.

The Purpose of Anxiety

Believe it or not, anxiety is a critical part of our response system which can help us cope with threats to our own safety or those close to us. The responses associated with anxiety help us recognize and avert potential problems. Often times, it can also motivate us to take action to better our situation such as create priorities, consider the pros and cons to situations and improve relationships. However, if we don’t manage these natural responses effectively, they can begin to impact your work and relationships, and overall day to day life. If left untreated, it can become more overwhelming as time goes on. If it does get clinically diagnosed, often times treatment options are available in the form of medication as well as counseling.

How do Antidepressants Work?

The pharmaceutical companies have developed several drugs to treat anxiety-related disorders. The most common are serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) like Prozac, Zoloft, Valium, and Xanax. While these can be effective for many patients, some experience the undesirable side effects or don’t see much improvement. These medications are also highly addictive. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, people can develop both a physical and psychological dependence on antidepressants and those that do are more likely to abuse other drugs.

SSRI’s are believed to work by blocking the serotonin transporter which is responsible for carrying serotonin back into the brain’s cells. Serotonin is responsible for help regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire. Serotonin needs to be on the outside of the brain’s neurons in order for us to feel these effects. SSRI’s work by blocking the serotonin transporter which results in more serotonin sitting on the outside of the neurons.

How do People get Addicted to Antidepressants?

Most people who are abusing antidepressants start by simply increasing their prescribed dose when they feel like the drug isn’t working fast enough. The problem with this is that antidepressants work over time, they actually accumulate in the brain. This is why they don’t result in immediate effects and can take over a month to start working. When the desired result is not felt, abusers will sometimes then take another substance-most commonly, alcohol.

CBD’s Effect on Anxiety

CBD has generated a lot of interest among consumers, doctors, and scientists because of it’s potential to treat medical conditions. CBD has been proven to have powerful anti-anxiety properties, which when administered as needed, appears safe, well tolerated with little to no side effects, and no risk of addiction.

This is supported by researchers from Neurobiological Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. In research published in the International Association for the Study of Pain, “Our data indicate that repeated administration of CBD produces a significant increase in the mean firing rate of DRN 5-HT neurons in both sham and SNI rats, which is consistent with results from studies testing more traditional anxiolytics and antidepressants. Seven days of treatment with CBD reduced mechanical allodynia, decreased anxiety-like behavior, and normalized 5-HT activity. A reduction and/or irregularity in the activity of 5-HT neurons has been linked to the emergence of mood and anxiety disorders. These results are clinically relevant, as CBD is known to exhibit few side effects and supports the initiation of clinical trials testing the efficacy of CBD-based compounds for treating neuropathic pain and comorbid mood disorders.”