Anxiety disorders are the 3rd largest mental health problem in the world today, affecting approximately 7% of the population according to the available scientific data . The defining feature of anxiety is an intense fear of being judged, negatively evaluated or rejected in social and professional situations . For people suffering with anxiety, a fear of speaking in public is said to be one of the cardinal manifestations of the condition .
Anxiety is associated with the impairment of social adjustments to daily life, increased disability, dysfunction and a loss of productivity . Furthermore, anxiety follows a long-term and unforgiving course, and is rarely resolved without treatment .
Despite the guidelines and consensus statements issued by bodies such as the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the pharmacological treatment of anxiety remains problematic. Only around 30% of people ever achieve true recovery without remission or residual symptoms, leading them to search for alternative treatments, such as cannabis .
Cannabis Use in People with Anxiety is a Double Edged Sword
People suffering with anxiety disorders are more likely to use cannabis than those without such disorders, in an attempt to ‘self-medicate’ . Interestingly, the relationship between cannabis and anxiety is a double-edged sword. Many cannabis users state a reduction of anxiety as one of the primary motivations for use. On the other hand, intense anxiety and panic are some of the most commonly reported undesirable effects of cannabis use . Such conflicting statements arise because THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the most famous compound found within cannabis, decreases anxiety in low doses and causes anxiety in high doses .
Conversely, CBD (cannabidiol), another major constituent of the cannabis plant, has displayed substantially different psychological effects to those of THC . When administered orally, CBD oil has been shown to reduce, or ‘block’ the anxiety causing effects of THC . The aforementioned studies, plus other studies in the area have led researchers, doctors and patients to wonder, could CBD oil be a potential treatment for anxiety disorders?