Panic attacks are more common than what you may think. They are actually so common that approximately 1.5% of the U.S population over the age of 18 can experience a panic attack in a given year. Furthermore, those who suffer from panic attacks often suffer from co-occurring disorders or physical illnesses, which intensifies their attack.
Whether panic attacks are linked to anxiety, or they are caused by some other stress factor, panic attacks are real, frightening or worse, emotionally debilitating. Generally speaking, doctors will tend to treat panic attacks with psychological therapy, medication or even both, but thanks to recent research a third option has come into the light. Scientists are now agreeing that CBD is proving to be an effective treatment for panic attacks.
What are Panic Attacks?
While often thought to be the same thing, panic attacks and anxiety attacks are quite different. Anxiety attacks are mostly caused in reaction to a stressor. For example, a person may feel apprehensive or fearful of a certain situation. Anxiety attacks are short lived and when the stressor goes away so does the anxiety.
Panic attacks, on the other hand, aren’t related to a stressor. A panic attack is unpredictable and can strike out of the blue. During a panic attack, a person may feel as if they are going to die or lose complete control over a situation. This will lead to a variety of physical symptoms including, chest pains, dizziness, and nausea.
Common symptoms of panic include:
- Racing or pounding heart
- Chest pains
- Tingling in different body parts
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of dying
- Nausea or upset stomach
While panic attacks tend to only last for a couple of minutes the aftermath is devastating and can lead to depression and helplessness. Recurring panic attacks may lead to significant behavioral changes that can last for a few months. Panic attack suffers will often seek treatment in the emergency room, as panic attacks often feel like a heart attack.
Traditional Medicine to Treat Panic Attacks (Not Related to CBD)
If you decide to go down the traditional route to treat a panic attack then it’s important to understand that doctors will tend to prescribe two types of medicine:
Antidepressants – This is generally the first choice of doctors. When taken regularly, they alter neurotransmitter configurations which in turn help to block symptoms.
Anti-anxiety drugs (benzodiazepines) – The use of benzodiazepines for panic attacks is an extremely controversial topic among researchers. For example, while The American Psychiatric Association found positive evidence and claim that benzodiazepines can be used based on the individual patient’s history, The National Institute of Clinical Excellence came to a different conclusion, concluding that benzodiazepines were not effective in the long-term for panic disorder. According to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, benzodiazepines should not be used for longer than four weeks for panic disorder.
Substances to Avoid When Experiencing a Panic Attack
- Caffeine – Caffeine is a known stimulant and can trigger various emotions including nervousness, nausea and light headedness.
- Artificial and Refined Sugars – Although sugar is located in virtually everything we eat these days, it’s important to be conscientious about it. Studies have shown that sugar creates changes in your body which can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
- Alcholol – While thought to be a stress reliever by some, Alcohol is a toxin that leads to improper physical and mental functioning, by impacting the levels of serotonin in the brain.
It also effects the nervous system and can cause increased heart rate.
- Trans Fat – Trans Fat, aka hydrogenated fat, is one of the worst foods for your health. Unfortunately, it is also one of the tastiest. Studies have found that Trans Fat, located in foods such as french fries and candy can increase your risk of depression. Furthermore, it can lead to more anxiety-like symptoms.
CBD and Panic Attacks
As of now, it is known that THC can have a calming and soothing effect on the human body, proving to provide relief for panic attack suffers. This occurs when the anandamide in our bodies react with the THC in Cannabis. Recent studies, however, are showing that a different cannabinoid, known as CBD is also having a miraculous effect on panic suffers.
In 2015, a study conducted by Esther M. Blessing, Maria M. Steenkamp, Jorge Manzanares, Charles R. Marmar (Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct; 12(4): 825–836) concluded that CBD can be used as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely.
Other studies have found an indirect connection to panic attacks through research on anxiety. In a small study of 40 people, CBD was found to reduce anxiety in people subjected to stressful situations.
In 2011, it was found that pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech helping them to deal with anxiety and panic attacks.
In a publication by de Mello Schier et al. (2014), it was concluded that CB1 and CB2 receptors remained inactive after CBD administration. This suggested that anxiolytic benefits were most likely achieved through binding to the 5-HT1A receptor. This indicated that CBD appeared efficacious as an anxiolytic.
Your Experience with CBD for Panic Attacks
If you’ve been diagnosed with a panic attack disorder and have tested CBD oil as a form of treatment, please share your experience in the comments section below. Please include the type of problem you have, the dosage you took and how effective it was for attenuating your panic attack (on a scale of 1 to 10).
It’s important to understand that while CBD appears effective and safe, it still warrants further investigation – especially when used long-term.