It’s estimated that 40 million adults in the United States, over the age of 18 suffer, from some kind of an anxiety disorder every year. However, perhaps quite shockingly, only 36.9% of these people are thought to receive treatment for their anxiety disorder. And, for those who are seeking treatment, one visit to the doctor isn’t going to cure you. Generally, it’s a process of your doctor getting to know you, looking into what treatment methods would work best for you, and implementing them.
Panic attacks or panic disorders are very closely related to anxiety. It’s not easy having distress filling the brain. In fact, many people suffer from panic attacks due to their anxiety. More specifically, a panic disorder is listed as one of the many anxiety disorders. But, panic attacks take time to get control of. Once you are experiencing a panic attack, it’s not easy to calm yourself down. CBD, however, could help in the moment, as well as work as a preventative measure, similar to pharmaceutical drugs that are often prescribed.
With anxiety disorders being among the most common in the mental health sector, it’s no wonder that many people are turning to CBD oil for relief. In this article, we will take a look at what panic attacks and panic disorder are, what CBD oil is, and how it can help to treat panic attacks.
What is a Panic Attack or Panic Disorder?
If you have experienced a sudden surge of overpowering fear and anxiety, then you are familiar with the feeling of suffering a panic attack. People who suffer from this disorder feel terror at random. During a panic attack, you could experience, sweat, chest pain, and heart palpitations. Sometimes, you might also feel like you are choking or having a heart attack.
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder distinguished by ongoing and severe panic attacks. It could also include significant behavioural changes that last at least a month and continuing worry about the concern of having other attacks. The latter is referred to as anticipatory attacks. As panic attacks can’t be predicted, individuals may become distressed, worried or anxious wondering when the next panic attack might occur.
The difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack is that a panic attack occurs out of the blue and lasts a shorter length of time but with more intense symptoms. Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, have stressors that build to less severe reactions that can last for weeks or even months.
While there isn’t a single cause for panic disorder, it has been found to run in families, meaning that genetics plays a significant role in determining who will get it. Also, it’s thought to exist as a comorbid condition with many heredity disorders like alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and genetic predisposition.
Psychological factors, life transitions, environment, stressful life events, and thinking in a way that exceeds relatively normal bodily reactions are also thought to play a role in the onset of panic disorder. The first attacks are often triggered by physical illness, certain medications, or significant stress. Individuals who are known to take on excessive responsibilities could develop a tendency to suffer panic attacks.
A panic attack will begin suddenly and usually peaks between 10 to 20 minutes. However, some symptoms could last for as long as an hour and sometimes longer. Panic attacks often involve anxiety about being in a particular situation, where escape might be difficult, such as crowds, or traveling in a plane, bus or car.
An individual with a panic disorder will have at least four of the below symptoms during an attack:
- Dizziness or faintness
- Fear of dying
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Feeling of choking
- Numbness or tingling in the feet, hands, or face
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Feelings of detachment
- Fear of losing control or impending doom
- A sensation of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of unreality
- Palpitations, fast heart rate, or pounding heart
- Feelings of detachment
- Trembling or shaking
- Sweating, chills, or hot flashes
There are other symptoms as well, but these are among the most common.
What’s CBD and Why is it Good for Panic Attacks
Before we dive into what CBD oil is, let’s have a quick overview of CBD. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many chemical compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. While THC is the most well-known cannabinoid due to its psychoactive effects (it’s the compound that makes users high), CBD is becoming increasingly popular for its various medical properties. CBD has the ability to deliver physical and mental benefits without the high that is associated with marijuana.
Among some of the most incredible benefits of CBD is its ability to treat pain, PTSD, anxiety, nausea, stress, seizures, and plain old moodiness. As of 2018, more than half of US States and 16 countries around the world have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Nine of these states, plus Washington DC have legalized it on a recreational level. As cannabis continues to establish itself in the mainstream medical world, CBD has emerged as an easy solution for those who are looking for the medical benefits of weed but may be skeptical of getting high.
So what is it?
It’s something that seems to be everywhere these days. People are dropping it into their tea, loading it into vape pens, and swallowing capsules, claiming that it relieves impression, helps them to sleep, and treats chronic pain. Most importantly, it’s useful in treating anxiety and more specifically, panic disorders.
As we mentioned, CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, and it can be used as an oil. CBD oil is often extracted from the resin glands on marijuana buds. It can also be extracted from hemp, which is a fibrous and industrial form of weed that has small buds and a THC concentration of 0.3% or less. CBD oil is typically diluted with another type of oil, like MCT oil.
Since some people are not fans of the psychoactive effects of marijuana, it’s important to emphasize that CBD and thus CBD oil, will not get you stoned. There are more than 80 known cannabinoids in cannabis, and the effects they have on us stem from the way they interact with specific receptors in our body. THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in weed, produces intoxication by interacting with CB1 receptors in the brain. The interaction of CBD with these same receptors is 100 times weaker than that of THC, and when it binds to the receptors, it doesn’t alter our perceptions and thoughts in the same way.
CBD Oil Side Effects
Generally, CBD is considered to be a safe form of medication. In fact, when compared to pharmaceutical drugs, CBD is significantly safer and healthier. However, on some occasions people who use CBD may experience side effects including the following:
- Sleeping difficulties
- Mood changes
- Dry mouth
Although the above are possible symptoms when taking CBD, it’s still considered by some as a preferred option than conventional medication. Remember, because of the chemical nature of pharmaceuticals; the side effects are often a lot worse. CBD, on the other hand, is 100% natural – straight from a plant.
How Does CBD oil Work to Treat Panic Disorder?
While research into CBD oil and its treatment of panic disorder is limited, all studies done to date have shown positive results. It’s worth mentioning that research strongly points to the role of CBD in treating short-term anxiety. However, little is known about its long-term effects, or even how it could be used as a prolonged treatment method.
An associate professor by the name of Yu-Fung Lin from the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, lecturers a course on the physiology of marijuana. She says that while CBD is not psychoactive – meaning it won’t alter the mind and get you stoned – it still works in our brain. It doesn’t activate the receptors in the brain the same way that THC does, but it targets a variety of proteins in the nervous system and brain, that regulate cell activities throughout the human body. In addition, as we mentioned before, because CBD interacts with the brains signaling systems in multiple ways, it can provide relief from nausea, anxiety, and pain, among other things.
While research into CBD oil is still in its infancy, animal studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that it has the potential to treat everything from anxiety and chronic pain to diseases of the central nervous system and substance abuse disorder. A report published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse* states that CBD has been proven to reduce stress in animal studies. In these studies, the subjects were observed to have lower behavioral signs of anxiety. Some psychological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, also improved.
Furthermore, a 2015 analysis* that was done on previous studies found that CBD oil is a promising treatment for several forms of anxiety, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Here are two of the proven ways that CBD oil has shown to treat panic attacks:
- Reduced fear: As part of a preclinical study published in the US National Library of Medicine, CBD showed the possibility of reducing symptoms of fear, which is common in people who experience multiple panic attacks. These people are conditioned to feel fear in certain situations that can cause their panic attacks. If the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional responses such as fear (infralimbic cortex) is targeted, then we can decrease these instances.
- Blocking unintentional memory retrieval: The memory plays a big part in anxiety, and the probability of having a panic attack since the flashback to a traumatic event is the most common trigger of a panic attack. The same preclinical trial mentioned above found that CBD could block unintentional retrieval of memories in rats. The study stated that when the CBD activated the CB1 receptor, it could block the traumatic memories of the rat, reducing the probability of a recurring panic attack.
Here are a few other ways that CBD could treat panic disorder:
- Eliminates stress and anxiety in minutes
- Eliminates panic
- Overall calming effect
- Helps you to think more clearly
On a more scientific level, when consumed, CBD enters the bloodstream to work with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). CBD doesn’t bind directly to the cannabinoid receptors that are on our neurons like THC would. Instead, it stimulates other cannabinoid receptors, elevates chemicals, and opens up pathways to create reactions throughout the body. This is the reason that you don’t experience the same high as you would with THC.
When you suffer from anxiety, the parts of your brain that recognize fear are overactive. During a panic attack, several chemicals are being sent from one cell to another, transferring terrorizing messages of fear. CBD works to elevate endocannabinoids, which tells the sending sells to stop overloading the receiving neurons, which makes the transition much calmer. This helps the body return to normal and calms down the mind.
Why CBD oil rather than Conventional Medication?
Not only is CBD oil natural but its benefits are far-reaching and have scientific backing. This means that the same CBD oil that you use to treat your panic disorder could also help to treat any other conditions that you may have, such as insomnia, or pain.
In a study published last* year, 2,400 registered users of Hello MD were surveyed. One of the most interesting findings of the study was that 42% of people who used CBD reported that they gave up pharmaceutical drugs in favor of using cannabis in some form. Whether or not it actually replaced pharmaceuticals, most of the respondents reported that CBD helped them a great deal and said that they used it regularly.
52% of the people who responded to the above-mentioned research agreed that CBD was either “much more effective” or “more effective” than pharmaceutical drugs. These people used CBD for many diverse reasons.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are a lot more prominent than many people realize. They can be brought on by a number of circumstances and are often a result of genetics. It’s important to bring awareness to this condition, and more importantly, if you do suffer from a panic disorder, CBD oil is a possible treatment method.
Often stemming from stressful situations, or cases of trauma, panic attacks are definitely not something to take lightly and should be treated with caution. People are giving up pharmaceuticals in light of CBD, and it’s making headlines, even in places like Forbes Magazine. It’s about time the world knows what CBD can do.
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