CBD for Anxiety

CBD for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are an increasingly prevalent condition and the most common mental health disorder in America - an estimated 40 million U.S. adults (18.1%) report experiencing some type of anxiety disorder yearly [2]. According to a national poll by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the prevalence of anxiety in the U.S. is rising steeply across all ages, genders, and ethnicities; this poll found a mean average anxiety rating of 51 out of 100, up 5 points from 2017 [1].

In an attempt to treat the growing anxiety epidemic, benzodiazepine prescriptions have doubled between 2003 and 2015 [3]. Though pharmaceutical medication is an effective anxiety treatment for some individuals, many experience unsuccessful results, unwanted side effects, and the potential for medication addiction.

Studies made at the National Institutes of Health support that Cannabidiol, or CBD, shows great potential as a natural, non-addictive supplement for a variety of symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. Though still in the early stages of research, numerous clinical studies support the anti-anxiety properties of CBD, as well as its benefits for other conditions[8].

The World Health Organization has expressed its position in favor of the use of CBD, stating this substance acts as a 5-HT1A agonist in the brain - allowing CBD to boost serotonin, similar to prescription SSRI medications [5]. CBD also promotes hippocampal neurogenesis, a process that increases neural production in the hippocampus and is considered scientifically effective in the treatment of depression [4]. Similarly, CBD effects the brain’s neurotransmitters with no “high” feeling or addictive potential, as it contains no THC [7].

Though the study of CBD in humans is limited, current research suggests that CBD products may be beneficial in the treatment of a variety of anxiety-related disorders:

  • Depressive Disorder - mild to moderate
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social Phobia

Overall, CBD use is considered safe by experts, and in 2018, the FDA released a statement approving the use of a “purified form of [...] cannabidiol (CBD)” [6]. Though a natural substance, it is important to keep in mind that CBD can produce side effects such as dry mouth, appetite changes, mood changes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and low blood pressure [7].

Speak to your healthcare provider before using CBD to treat anxiety or any other condition.


[1] American Psychiatric Association. (2018). APA public opinion poll - annual meeting 2018. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/apa-public-opinion-poll-annual-meeting-2018

[2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2017). Facts and statistics. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

[3] Chatterjee, R. (2019). Steep climb in benzodiazepine prescribing by primary care doctors. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/01/25/688287824/steep-climb-in-benzodiazepine-prescribing-by-primary-care-doctors

[4] Fogaça, M. V., Galve-Roperh, I., Guimarães, F. S., & Campos, A. C. (2013). Cannabinoids, neurogenesis and antidepressant drugs: Is there a link?. Current neuropharmacology, 11(3), 263–275. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648779/

[5] Russo, E.B., Burnett, A., Hall, B, Parker, K. K. (2005).  Neurochem Res, 30(8), 1037-43. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16258853

[6] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). Statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the importance of conducting proper research to prove safe and effective medical uses for the active chemicals in marijuana and its components. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/newsevents/newsroom/pressannouncements/ucm611047.htm

[7] World Health Organization. (2017). Cannabidiol (CBD) pre-review report. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf

[8] Zhornitsky, S., & Potvin, S. (2012). Cannabidiol in humans-the quest for therapeutic targets. Pharmaceuticals, 5(5), 529–552. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763649/