There is an ongoing mental health crisis in the world that people are only beginning to take notice of and soon, hopefully, action.
Around 1 in every 5 adults in the United States (roughly 47 million people) suffer from an adverse mental health condition each year.
Some conditions such as generalized panic disorder, and PTSD, are successfully treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
However, many are resistant to these medications and continue to suffer.
Where to turn?
Alternative medicines are a growing field of interest to everyone from children to the elderly and everyone in between.
For a long time, mainstream pharmaceuticals have held sway. However, they are now interested in finding alternative solutions for mental health concerns.
CBD (cannabidiol) is now one of the most sought after avenues of treatment for a wide variety of mental health conditions. CBD oil for anxiety and stress is becoming more and more popular with every passing day.
What are panic attacks?
Roughly speaking, panic attacks are episodes of fear and worry, that include various physical symptoms e.g. shortness of breath and/or increased heart rate.
Researchers have identified pathways in the brain that control these emotions. What’s more interesting is that CBD can directly influence these pathways.
While more research needs to be conducted, recent clinical studies support the use of CBD oil for panic attacks because of its high-efficacy in dealing with anxiety.
Let’s dig in topic further?
As we stated above, panic attacks are episodes of debilitating anxiety and fear. These may begin without any trigger or warning which is what makes it such an intensely debilitating condition.
They can be confused with life-threatening conditions like heart attacks due to their intensity. On average, attacks last ten minutes or less.
Common symptoms include:
Palpitations and increased heart rate
Trembling and shaking
Shortness of breath or choking sensation
Nausea or digestive upset
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
Depersonalization (feeling like they are not experiencing reality)
Fear of losing control or going crazy
Fear of dying
Panic disorders are a disabling condition that affects approximately 2-3% of Americans.
Some people are “lucky” and will only experience one or two panic attacks in their lives. Others who are less fortunate may have numerous attacks throughout their life, sometimes several a month.
A person who suffers a frequent number of attacks is referred to as having a panic disorder.
In addition to the symptoms, an affected person will also continually worry about having another episode, worry about the consequences of an attack, or even change their behaviours as a result.
As an example – a person might avoid social gatherings or public speaking. This can be due to the fear they could have of having an attack in public and the embarrassment they may feel about having an attack. For some, this is the worst symptom.
Risk factors for panic disorder
Generally, panic disorder symptoms start in late teens or early 20s. As with most mental health conditions, females are more likely to be diagnosed with panic disorder than men.
While the direct causes of panic disorders are not entirely understood, some factors may increase the risk, including but not limited to:
Family history of panic attacks or panic disorder
Significant life stressors such as divorce or the death of a loved one
Trauma (e.g. sexual assault, death of a child, childhood trauma)
Major life changes such as moving or divorce
Cigarette smoking or excessive caffeine intake
Mainstream treatments of panic attacks and panic disorder
The current standard treatment for those suffering panic disorders are long-term SSRIs or anti-anxiety medications.
Though these can be moderately effective they commonly cause numerous side effects.
Less than half of all people with panic disorder resolve their panic attacks through these medications.
What this means is that new treatments and approaches are needed to solve the problem.
CBD oil for panic attacks
CBD products are quickly rising in popularity among those seeking better approaches for medical conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety symptoms, and sleep issues.
Right now, research is being conducted into all the potential health benefits of CBD products. This includes the use of CBD oil for panic attacks, and other prevalent mental health disorders.
Fear is one of the most prominent symptoms of panic disorder. Also, it’s common for people with panic attacks to take anti-anxiety medications. This means that managing stress is an integral part of treating panic attacks.
Can using cannabis cause panic attacks?
It is commonly understood that the intake of cannabis can create high levels of paranoia, and panic attacks.
This is in part due to cannabis’s THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants that can instil a ‘sense of euphoria’.
CBD (cannabidiol) is like THC in that it is also a cannabinoid, but unlike THC it does not create any psychoactive effects in the brain.
Cannabis and cannabidiol – Sounds the same, but very different
On the surface, they appear the same, but cannabis and CBD products are actually derived from different strains of the cannabis Sativa plant.
CBD products are created using the industrial hemp plant, which contains trace amounts to zero THC.
Some CBD products are created using a purified CBD called ‘CBD isolate’. This isolate contains practically no THC at all.
A growing body of evidence supports the idea that CBD (cannabidiol) may be effective for panic-related disorders.
How CBD oil can help fight panic attacks
Research is still being carried out on exactly how CBD works in the brain and how it affects panic attacks.
Two systems were found in the brain which are likely to be a big part of why people have a positive outcome using CBD oil for panic attacks:
1 – Serotonin receptors
In animal testing, serotonin receptors (5-HT1a) were activated by cannabinoids in several parts of the brain.
SSRI drugs are used to target the same areas. And these, as we’ve mentioned before, are the most commonly used medications by people with panic attacks.
These studies found that CBD was effective in reducing the amount of panic in animals.
2 – The endocannabinoid system
The cannabinoids in CBD, including anandamide, stimulate CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system.
These receptors are found throughout our brains and bodies and are involved in emotions, behaviours, memory, decision making, pain, and inflammation.
If receptors can be stimulated with CBD oil, there is a marked difference in their fear responses. Many people in these fields are optimistic about potential future outcomes.
Researching CBD oil for panic attacks
The research on CBD and how it affects mental health and mood disorders is just beginning.
Up to now most research on CBD for panic attacks has been conducted on animals.
However, there are several human and animal studies that support the anxiolytic-like effect of CBD in other mental health conditions.
A clinical trial on using CBD for social anxiety disorder (SAD) found that CBD can reduce panic and affects the activity of the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain.
These two areas are connected to fear and emotions.
Other human studies have found that lower levels of the cannabinoid anandamide are associated with PTSD. Much like panic disorder, people with PTSD also experience panic attacks.
This suggests to the researchers that the use of CBD decreases fear and panic levels. It may also help reduce other effects of panic disorder.
CBD and FDA approval
Let’s get one thing out of the way – cannabis-derived products containing certain THC are illegal and restricted at the federal level in the U.S.
But there’s a lot more fine print, too.
Because CBD products contain only trace amounts of THC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the sale and use of them in the United States.
The FDA also approved a prescription CBD product, Epidolex, for certain types of treatment-resistant seizures.
It’s likely that the FDA will see fit to approve more CBD-based drugs as positive CBD findings continue to be published.
At the moment the FDA does not regulate CBD based drugs. While it means a greater deal of access in some cases it also means that lower-quality products are more likely to make their way into the hands of people who need quality medication.
As a consumer, you need to make sure that any CBD products you purchase come from a company using third-party testing. This ensures a safer, more high-quality product you can place your trust in.
Closing remarks on CBD for panic attacks
If you suffer from panic attacks and are not finding relief with current treatment options, you may be able to help your condition using CBD oil. While it’s not for everyone, the results can be powerful. You can try the various ways of taking cannabidiol like CBD vape oil, CBD edibles, CBD acne creams or CBD tinctures.
Remember to always speak with your doctor before embarking on any new medical treatment and do not stop taking your prescribed medication in favour of CBD unless told to by your doctor.