CBD For Social Anxiety
It is estimated that over 8 million people in the UK suffer from anxiety. There are various medications for anxiety, mainly conventional chemical drugs that interact with the brain to calm it down. However, they have some potentially serious side-effects. So, an increasing number of sufferers are turning to CBD for social anxiety: a whopping 38% of people who have tried CBD in the UK did it for social anxiety!
So what is social anxiety and how can CBD help the brain handle social anxiety attacks?
What is social anxiety?
We all experience stress and anxiety from time to time: exams, public engagements, doing something new and different, or speaking in public are just a few of the events that can stress us.
However, prolonged periods of anxiety, whereby people suffer from increasing anxiety levels, can be debilitating.
When people suffer from social anxiety, they become anxious about being in public and are worried about how they will be judged. Simple social interactions like meeting a person for the first time or going out with a group of friends can overwhelm anxiety sufferers.
More nerve-racking events such as talking to your boss or giving a public speech can trigger a devastating panic attack. Social anxiety attacks can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat.
Because social interactions become stressful and tedious, social anxiety sufferers turn to themselves. The more people suffer from social anxiety, the more they fear they will be perceived as boring, awkward, and withdrawn. This leads to a vicious circle of increased social anxiety.
In order to avoid feeling anxious and stressed, people start avoiding social interactions altogether. But this can lead to depression and other mental disorders.
What are some common treatments for social anxiety?
Social anxiety condition stems from the brain. It appears that people suffering from social anxiety have low levels of serotonin, the calming and mood-enhancing brain hormone.
Serotonin is also closely linked to social behaviour and function. It regulates anxiety and happiness—lower serotonin levels have been associated with depression and mood disorders.
Conventional medication involves chemical substances that increase serotonin levels in the brain and body. These substances are called Selective Standard Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI). Their main goal is to increase the serotonin flowing in the brain and stop it from being absorbed too quickly. They are called selective because they specifically target serotonin, one of many neurotransmitters in the body.
SSRI can be quite effective. However, they can also cause several important side-effects such as nausea, headaches, drowsiness, agitation, sleep problems, sweating, or tremors. Unsurprisingly, people taking SSRI are looking for healthier alternatives; ones that may cause fewer side-effects.
Some social anxiety sufferers turn to treatments that do not involve medication but rather meditation, yoga, exercise, and deep breathing techniques. Others choose to go into therapy. And quite a few resort to CBD oil for social anxiety.
Is CBD oil good for anxiety?
CBD has been known to interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and particularly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the ECS. These receptors are spread throughout the body and brain and are responsible for mood, memory, appetite, sleep, and various other important functions.
Research suggests that CBD also interacts with the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor.
Although it was initially thought that CBD increases serotonin levels in the brain, it is now thought that it helps the brain better utilize the serotonin already present in it.
At the moment, it is still uncertain how—and if—CBD for social anxiety works. Literature is increasingly suggesting that CBD can, indeed, be helpful, but more widespread research is required for the medical community to support CBD as a medication for social anxiety.
Is there any clinical evidence for CBD for social anxiety?
Several CBD studies have been conducted with regards to using CBD oil for social anxiety.
A 2019 study attempting to confirm anecdotal claims showed that 79.2% of patients taking 25 mg of CBD saw an improvement in their social anxiety symptoms. But there were also 15.3% of patients who said that their symptoms got worse with CBD.
This may be explained by the possibility that CBD is biphasic. That’s why CBD dosage is critical: the effect you get for a low dosage may be the opposite of what you get at a high one.
Another 2019 study on teenagers with social anxiety established that the “results indicate that CBD could be a useful option to treat social anxiety”.
A 2011 study studying CBD for social anxiety found it can reduce social anxiety related to public speaking.
A 2013 study on mice suggested the anxiolytic effect of CBD on stressed mice involved the regeneration of cells in the hippocampus part of the brain.
A further 2015 study showed that CBD had a good interaction with the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor.
Another 2015 study researched the endocannabinoid system and how the generation of neurons within it could help in treating anxiety, stress and, depression.
Finally, a 2015 study exploring CBD for social anxiety concluded it displays some “considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.” However, further studies on the relevant population are required.
With the legalisation of CBD as a substance, it is expected that the medical community will have more opportunities and financial incentives to undertake research regarding the effects of CBD on multiple conditions, including social anxiety.
CBD for social anxiety dosage
While the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggested in its recent guidelines that people shouldn’t exceed 70 mg of CBD per day, the NHS has not approved a recommended dosage for any condition. Therefore, there is no officially recommended dosage for CBD for social anxiety.
This makes potential CBD consumers confused as to the quantity of CBD they should be taking. Because of CBD’s possible biphasic nature, the confusion grows even further.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that an average dose when using CBD for social anxiety is 20 mg per day.
However, the foremost suggestion when taking CBD oil for social anxiety is to start with a low dosage, spread throughout the day in 2-3 dosages. A small dosage is usually considered to be between 5 mg and 10 mg per day.
Establish how your body reacts to this dosage. In case of negative side effects, it is best to lower the dosage or stop taking CBD completely. If you feel no positive effects and no side-effects either after a few days, you may increase the dosage slowly every two to three days.
How soon does CBD oil work for anxiety?
Different ways of consuming CBD have different bioavailability levels of CBD in the body. Also, various methods result in different times for the body to start experiencing the possible effects of CBD.
CBD oil tinctures placed under the tongue usually take between 10 to 20 minutes before having an effect. CBD edibles, on the other hand, require up to two hours for effects to become apparent. The bioavailability of tinctures is up to 50%, while for edibles and capsules closer to 20%.
Results may take some time to appear—if at all—because the body needs to adapt to the CBD.
Can you take CBD oil with anxiety medication?
CBD interacts with various medications, including SSRIs, because it inhibits the system our body uses to metabolize SSRIs. It appears that CBD inhibits some liver enzymes which metabolize SSRIs. Taking CBD could interfere with the SSRIs regimen social anxiety sufferers may be on.
In some cases of conjunct administration of SSRIs and CBD, people have experienced extreme drowsiness or sedation.
Since types of medication interfere with each other, it is best to consult your physician, doctor or GP, who are the most qualified professionals when it comes to your health issues. If you are on prescribed anti-anxiety medication, we highly advise against stopping it in order to take CBD. You should always consult your doctor before changing anything regarding your medication.
Does CBD really work for anxiety?
As with depression and stress, using CBD oil for social anxiety holds great promise.
CBD’s interaction with the human endocannabinoid system and particularly the serotonin receptors could be a helpful alternative to the current SSRI medication that people take to combat their social anxiety symptoms.
Some clinical trials have shown promising results. However, the NHS is not advocating taking CBD to deal with social anxiety as clinical trials are not conclusive and more research is required.
In the meantime, it is best to consult with your doctor before taking CBD oil for social anxiety, especially if you are on medication prescribed to social anxiety sufferers, if you suffer from a pre-existing condition, or are currently on any kind of medication.