Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety symptoms may be masking an organic disease, or appear associated or as a result of a medical disorder. See how CBD can help with your Anxiety.

CBD and Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are adaptive evolutionary responses essential to coping with threats to survival, however, excessive or persistent fear is maladaptive, leading to an inability to function effectively everyday life. Anxiety disorders can include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and more. CBD has shown particular promise in helping to relieve many of the debilitating symptoms associated with these disorders, and lack the undesirable side effects and addictive qualities of traditional pharmaceutical treatments (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, etc.).

Preclinical evidence conclusively illustrates CBD’s ability to reduce the symptoms of anxiety in a variety of disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder. These effects appear to depend upon CB1 receptors and 5-HT1A receptors in several brain regions. Human experimental findings support these preclinical findings, and also suggest a lack of anxiety-provoking effects, minimal sedative effects, and an excellent safety profile (Blessing, Steenkamp, Manzanares, & Marmar, 2015).

CBD for panic disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1 percent of the U.S. population. GAD is characterized by persistent, uncontrolled, and excessive worry about a number of different things. Individuals may worry more than seems warranted about actual events or may expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern (Anxiety & Depression Association of America).

Preclinical studies in rats have shown that the anxiety reducing effects of CBD follow a bell-shaped dose–response curve, with positive effects seen at moderate (10 mg/kg) but not higher doses (100 mg/kg) (Silveira Filho, Nylson G.; Tufik, 2011; Zuardi, Finkelfarb, Bueno, Musty, & Karniol, 1981)(Guimarães, Chiaretti, Graeff, & Zuardi, 1990). CBD has also been shown to reduce fear in healthy volunteers that were participating in a high fear-inducing shock treatment within a laboratory (Das et al., 2013).

This abundance of evidence has led to clinical trials to further understand the therapeutic benefit of CBD for anxiety disorders.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a trauma and stressor-related disorder resulting after an individual has been exposed to a traumatic event. The endocannabinoid system has been identified as key player in the adaptation to stress. Interactions between endocannabinoids and other physiological systems have been shown to be necessary for regulating emotional memories, which may suggest that the endocannabinoid system is involved in the development and treatment of PTSD. A research group examined this and found that circulating endocannabinoids were significantly reduced among individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD (Hill et al., 2013). This may be why supplementing exogenous cannabinoids helps to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD.

A recent retrospective study in civilian patients with PTSD patients (Greer, Grob, & Halberstadt, 2014), and a case study in a patient with severe sexual abuse-related PTSD (Passie, Emrich, Karst, Brandt, & Halpern, 2012) showed that consistent cannabis use significantly reduces PTSD symptoms. In addition, a clinical trial is currently being run with 76 Veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD to determine the therapeutic utility of the whole cannabis plant.

CBD for Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is the extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations. Symptoms may be so extreme that they disrupt daily life. People with this disorder, also called social phobia, may have few or no social or romantic relationships, making them feel powerless, alone, or even ashamed.

* About 15 million American adults have social anxiety disorder

* Typical age of onset: 13 years old

* 36 percent of people with social anxiety disorder report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help (Anxiety & Depression Association of America).

CBD’s unique effects on anxiety gives it great utility in ameliorating the symptoms of SAD. CBD has been shown to reduce social anxiety in an experimental setting, where healthy and SAD participants were required to participate in a simulated public speaking test. Pre-treatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort about their speech performance, and significantly decreased fear in their anticipatory speech. The authors indicated that CBD had comparable efficacy to ipsapirone and diazepam, two popular anti-anxiety medications (Bergamaschi et al., 2011). CBD has also been shown to reduce the anticipatory anxiety associated with common medical imaging procedures (e.g. CT, PET, MRI) in both healthy people and those suffering from SAD (J. A. D. S. Crippa et al., 2004; J. A. S. Crippa et al., 2011).


Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over (National Institute for Mental Health). These compulsions are often perpetuated by anxiety, and in turn, create more anxiety. CBD has been shown to be an effective anti-compulsive agent in animal models, as well as human studies. Marble-burying behavior has been used as an animal model for obsessive-compulsive disorder (Thomas et al., 2009), and animal studies have found that treatment with CBD (15, 30 and 60mg/kg) induced a significant decrease in the number of buried marbles compared with controls (34%, 41% and 48%, respectively) (Casarotto, Gomes, Resstel, & Guimarães, 2010). More human studies are needed to understand the anti-compulsive effects of CBD.