CBD for anxiety? Study shows CBD reduces anxiety by up to 50% in young people

A new study researching CBD for anxiety found that CBD reduced symptoms by up to 50% in young people. The finding was especially interesting because the participants had not seen any improvements with other forms of treatment.

The CBD for anxiety study, which was published here in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, was carried out on 31 people between the ages of 12 and 25. They all had a DSM-5 anxiety disorder. This means that their anxiety was so severe that it interfered with their ability to go about their daily lives.

Anxiety effects

Many people suffer from anxiety. It is one of the most common mental illnesses and often occurs alongside depression and leads to a weakened immune system. Some key signs of anxiety are:

  • Restlessness or feeling or on edge
  • Being easily worn out / chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating / mind going blank
  • Irritability / anger
  • Muscle aches and/or tension
  • Insomnia / difficulty falling asleep or getting quality rest
  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate and/or heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Breathing problems
  • Upset stomach

Treatment options for anxiety

There are several ways to treat anxiety and many doctors will use several forms of treatment at once. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is a type of psychotherapy that helps people to change their thinking and behavior.
  • Support groups
  • Stress management techniques
  • Medication: Some people with anxiety take medication to help relieve their symptoms. The most common types of medication are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers.

CBD for anxiety?

While the anxiety treatments listed above work for many people, treatment resistance is a significant problem for many young people with moderate to severe anxiety. In fact, treatment resistance affects nearly half of all patients, according to the study.

The study investigated the effects of CBD for anxiety in young people who previously had not benefited from any other standard forms of treatment. All of the study participants had failed to respond to treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or antidepressants.

For the study, they received CBD for 12 weeks on a fixed but flexible schedule. CBD is found in hemp and cannabis, and unlike THC, it does not have any psychoactive effects. Some participants took very high doses of CBD – up to to 800 mg CBD per day.

After 12 weeks of taking CBD for anxiety, the participants were found to have a more than 42% reduction in anxiety severity. This finding was based on the Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS). They also improved in social and occupational functioning and saw a reduction in depressive symptoms.

The results show that CBD may be a potential treatment option for anxiety in people who have not improved with other forms of anxiety treatment.

Anxiety “dropped by 50%” with CBD

Study author Professor Paul Amminger told Medical News Today:

“There’s a lot of hope that a novel compound which is benign, like cannabidiol, could ease mental health problems. I think that the most exciting finding of the study was that the anxiety severity, which was on average severe to very severe, dropped by 50% at the end of the trial.”

Emily Li, another author of the study, also told Medical News Today:

“A lot of people reported [a] decrease in tension. They have reported just feeling generally more relaxed. They reported[ fewer] panic symptoms. They also reported a feeling of calmness.”

“Others have reported that because of the effect of the CBD, they no longer needed to, perhaps, use illicit substances to self-medicate.”

Placebo effect? CBD side effects?

This study showed great promise for CBD for anxiety, however it was a very small study that only lasted for 12 weeks.

Study authors noted that a placebo effect was possible. However, given that the participants were all previously resistant to treatment and that their anxiety significantly impaired their functioning and quality of life, the reduction of anxiety in this study suggests that CBD had a real anti-anxiety effect on them.

Furthermore, no-one experienced major adverse side effects, but some did report low mood, fatigue, cold chills and hot flashes.

The researchers are calling for more studies into CBD for anxiety and are hopeful that CBD could offer future treatment options.

If you’re interested in trying CBD for anxiety, it’s important to speak to your doctor first. CBD is believed to offer stress resilience, calm, and balance, but should never be used in place of other medications and is not approved for treating, mitigating, or curing any disease or ailment.