CBD Proves Effective At Treating Severe Anxiety, New Study Finds

New research has found CBD to be highly effective for young people suffering from severe, treatment-resistant anxiety. 

In fact, according to the study, published by Orygen and titled the Cannabidiol Youth Anxiety Study, CBD may cut the severity of chronic anxiety symptoms in half. 

A professor at Orygen, Paul Amminger, commented on the study: 

“The young people had fewer panic attacks and could do things which they were previously unable to do like leave the house, go to school, participate in social situations, eat at restaurants, take public transport or attend appointments by themselves. 

“That’s an amazing change in the group which has had treatment-resistant, long-standing severe to very severe anxiety.” 

The study 

There were 31 young participants who took part in the study, aged 12-25, all of which suffered from anxiety disorder and were not using any traditional treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions. 

All patients also had to complete a questionnaire on their symptoms which include; situational anxieties, panic attacks, worries, and flashbacks. 

A 200mg capsule of CBD was administered to participants at the beginning of the study and then increased to 400mg after one week, but some patients didn’t experience any significant improvement in their symptoms, so they had their dosage upped to 800mg per day. 

Participants were also offered biweekly CBT sessions for the duration of the study. 

After 12 weeks of treatment, symptoms were observed by researchers and measured on two different scales: 

A clinician-rated scale – the Hamilton Anxiety Rating – measured a reduction in anxiety of 50.7%. 

And a self-rated scale – the Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale – suggested a 42.6% reduction. 

Professor Amminger commented: “Our pilot study found that cannabidiol not only helped to reduce anxiety symptoms but it was also very well tolerated.”

Side effects? 

There is much talk about the side effects which occur when consuming CBD, or cannabis in general, for mental health problems – many suggest that it could worsen symptoms. 

But Professor Paul Amminger explains what they found after observing the participants in their trial: 

“The most common side-effects were mild sedation and mild fatigue but that was at the time when doses were increased and usually went away after a couple of days.

“We did not see side-effects like suicidal thoughts, irritability or sleep problems, which are not uncommon in people taking SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor).” 

He continues: 

“Cannabidiol is non-intoxicating and doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) so it doesn’t cause alterations in thinking and perception, it doesn’t make you ‘high’ and it’s not addictive. 

“In fact, cannabidiol has been used to treat addictive behaviours in other research trials and can reduce some of the adverse and intoxicating effects of THC.” 

Anxiety in the UK 

Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health-related issues in the U.K, and there are some very worrying statistics that suggest 6 in 100 people will be diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder in any given week. 

Additionally, an estimated 822,000 workers are affected by work-related stress, depression, or anxiety every year. 

But less than 50% of people with generalised anxiety disorder access treatment. 

Professor Amminger also made comments on the alarming situation which isn’t just happening in the U.K, but worldwide. 

“We’re seeing more and more young people experiencing anxiety – it’s the fastest growing form of mental ill-health in young people and we urgently need innovation in treatment.

“Anxiety disorders are very common so that leaves a large number of young people untreated, struggling with symptoms and developing secondary conditions, for instance depression and substance use disorders. 

“The problem with current frontline treatments for anxiety – CBT and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant drugs – is that they only work in about half of the people who try them.” 

Further research 

Although the study seemed to provide an extremely positive argument for the use of CBD to treat anxiety symptoms, there is still much to learn about the compound. 

With that, more frequent and larger trials are needed to further explore what it can potentially do. 

Another professor of the study, Patrick McGorry, said: “Cannabidiol is a promising treatment option which appears safe and effective. We need further research to confirm this and explore its value.” 

While Professor Amminger also commented: 

An open-label pilot study is limited by its design. To see a treatment effect in the treatment-resistant group is encouraging, but it could still be a placebo effect. The next step is a randomised controlled trial, which is the gold standard to test a new intervention. 

“Such a trial needs to be done in a much larger group – around 200 to 250 young people – to enable us to say with some certainty that there is, or is not, real treatment benefits and effects.” 

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