Is CBD Good for Anxiety and OCD?

Anxiety often manifests as persistent feelings of worry, nervousness, fear, and potential physical effects like a rapid heartbeat. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a complex psychological condition characterized by repetitive behaviors or intrusive thoughts intertwined with anxiety.

Key takeaways:
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    Current research shows that CBD may improve mood and sleep and potentially reduce the intensity of anxiety.
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    Psychotherapy, stress management techniques, and a healthy lifestyle can help manage anxiety and OCD.
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    There isn’t enough research to specifically recommend CBD for OCD.

In this article, we dive into the question - "Is CBD good for anxiety?", and explore the potential benefits of it to alleviate anxiety and OCD symptoms.

Can CBD help with anxiety?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a plant compound derived from the cannabis plant. It works with the body’s maintenance system, called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is constantly working to regulate your mood, sleep, pain, fear, hunger, and behavior to create a balanced state.

CBD can help your system restore balance when stressed by interacting with your ECS and serotonin receptors. This can stabilize your mood and decrease your perception of pain or physical symptoms of anxiety.

Research on CBD for anxiety

Research on CBD for anxiety is still in its early phases, despite the fact that its use has increased dramatically in recent years. Even though more research is required, recent findings indicate that CBD has a promising future as an alternative anxiety treatment.

A systematic review from 2020 examined the role of CBD in anxiety responses in several anxiety disorders. Doses varied widely, but CBD demonstrated improved clinical outcomes and was well-tolerated with minimum adverse effects.

A 2019 case series at a psychiatric clinic showed reduced anxiety in almost 80% of the 103 participants within the first month. However, it should be noted that CBD was used together with the usual treatment.

Another study prescribing CBD in clinical practice followed 400 patients over 3 weeks of use. Patients who had mental health issues in addition to non-cancer pain reported improvements in their anxiety, depression, and pain symptoms. They also noted that their sleep and appetite improved, giving more promise for CBD as beneficial for anxiety.

What anxiety symptoms can CBD help with?

According to new research, CBD can aid in improving:

  • Mood and worry. Excessive worry is a common symptom of OCD and anxiety that CBD may be able to help with. By working with the ECS and serotonin receptors in the brain, CBD can help stabilize your mood, potentially reducing feelings of worry.
  • Social anxiety. An extensive analysis backed up CBD's effectiveness in treating social anxiety. It seems to work well for healthy individuals and those with social anxiety disorder (SAD). However, optimal dosages are still up for discussion.
  • Physical symptoms. Chronic pain, muscle tension, and headaches are all common symptoms related to anxiety. CBD has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and muscle-relaxant properties which may help to treat acute or chronic pain.
  • Sleep quality. Sleep is necessary for mental health, but getting enough of it can be difficult, particularly when you are worried and stressed. By interacting with serotonin receptors, CBD may be able to help regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, it might help reduce symptoms of chronic pain sufficiently to improve your quality of sleep.

Forms of CBD

It’s important to choose a reputable CBD brand and be aware of the potential risks. Always speak to your doctor before trying CBD to be sure it's a safe option, especially if you have any health conditions.

  • Gummies. CBD-infused gummies are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their delicious taste, ease of use, and discreetness. There are numerous flavors and dosages available, so you can always find what you need.
  • Oil. Taking CBD in oil form is one of the most popular methods thanks to its rapid absorption under the tongue. It’s available in different concentrations and flavors, so you can easily customize your dose. One downside may be that it's not very convenient to carry or take in public.
  • Vape pens. For a quicker bloodstream absorption than other techniques, you can use a pen to inhale CBD vapor. You might have to be a bit more cautious to avoid the risks associated with inhaling substances.

What is OCD?

OCD is a mental health condition that involves obsessions and compulsions which you feel you have little control over. These symptoms can interfere with your daily life and cause significant distress.

The exact cause of OCD is unknown, but it’s thought to arise from a combination of childhood trauma, temperament, neurological, and genetic factors.

Research of CBD for OCD

OCD treatment usually involves medication and therapy, but those with OCD may also look for natural options that might help to alleviate symptoms. So you might be wondering, “Is CBD good for anxiety and OCD?”

CBD has the potential to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, factors that can increase the severity of OCD symptoms. Nevertheless, experts are unable to recommend CBD for OCD due to a lack of convincing evidence.

For example, in one study, a single CBD dose could decrease anxiety-like behavior in control mice but enhance it in mutant mice. The same study also showed that CBD decreased obsessive-compulsive behavior in male mice but not female mice.

A second, smaller study from 2020 that included only 12 participants revealed that smoking cannabis, whether it was mostly THC or CBD, had no CBD immediate effect on OCD symptoms.

However, in another study involving 87 people, there were impressive acute-response results. Patients reported a 60 percent reduction in compulsions, a 49 percent decrease in intrusive thoughts, and a 52 percent reduction in anxiety from before to after inhaling cannabis (which contains other active compounds in addition to CBD). Unfortunately, this study lacked a placebo control group, and all participants self-selected and self-identified as OCD sufferers.

What side effects can CBD for OCD cause?

Even though CBD is generally well-tolerated, there are potential side effects and interactions you should be aware of:

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort. This is one of the most common side effects; it may include nausea, diarrhea, and changes in appetite.
  • Fatigue. CBD’s calming effects can also lead to fatigue and drowsiness, which might affect your energy levels and ability to perform tasks.
  • Interaction with other medication. Since medication is common in the treatment of OCD, CBD shouldn’t be taken unless approved by your doctor.

Ways to manage OCD naturally

Managing OCD usually requires a multifaceted approach. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help to manage OCD naturally, alongside traditional methods, these include:

Psychotherapy

For OCD patients, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a highly successful subtype of Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT). A professional therapist will teach coping tools and gradually expose people to thoughts, images, or situations that make them anxious in a safer environment.

Stress management techniques

Anxiety and OCD symptoms often get worse under stress. Thankfully, there are treatments and things you can do to naturally lower your stress levels.

For instance, it has been demonstrated that mindfulness-based interventions can assist with self-reported symptoms of OCD. However, it’s still recommended to follow other treatment plans at the same time.

You can practice other self-help methods of reducing stress and anxiety, such as meditation, going for walks in the outdoors, or using art therapy to express your creativity.

Healthy lifestyle habits

Improving mental health requires eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising on a regular basis. The stress of everyday life also frequently causes us to forget the value of socializing and spending time with loved ones.

Therefore, while some people use natural wellness products like CBD to treat their OCD, there is not enough data to say with certainty how effective these products are.

However, incorporating healthy lifestyle habits, seeing a professional therapist, and practicing stress-relieving techniques daily are part of an all-natural treatment plan that can help manage anxiety and OCD.

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