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CBD for fear and anxiety: Is cannabidiol good for phobias?

A study published in the National Library of Medicine claims that, quote: “A growing body of literature provides compelling evidence that CBD has anxiolytic effects and recent studies have established a role for CBD in regulating learned fear by dampening its expression, disrupting its reconsolidation, and facilitating its extinction.”  The study further claims that Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive constituent of hemp or marijuana, could be an improvement over available medicines used for the treatment of phobias, PTSD, and fear-related symptoms caused by said conditions. 

Fear is a human emotion, meaning there is no escaping it. But failure to keep the emotion in check may make it harder to get the job you want, build relationships, and it can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. Chronic fear could stem from past experiences, the fear of the unknown, and it can be innate or learned. 

Can cannabidiol help you overcome your fear of flying, cats, snakes, creepy crawlies, and human judgment? Below is what you need to know. 

Quick take: Is CBD good for phobia?

  • Persons who experience fear after consuming cannabis should consider using CBD-rich products to counter the psychoactive effects of THC.
  • The FDA has not approved CBD as a treatment for mental health problems or fear-related symptoms (more studies on the safety profile of the chemical are needed).
  • If you are on medication or experience chronic fear, consult with a physician before consuming CBD.
  • CBD can help manage stress and anxiety and, by extension -fear.
  • CBD does not cause a high.

Does CBD help with fear?

One of the side effects of consuming marijuana is anxiety. The chemical in cannabis that may cause anxiety in some users is THC. THC is psychoactive, and with legalization, we are seeing the introduction of highly potent weed -that some believe may worsen anxiety in new users.

CBD/cannabidiol is different in that it is non-psychoactive, and medical studies have found that it can relieve or prevent stress, anxiety, and depression that stem from or may cause fear. 

The FDA has not approved CBD as a treatment for anxiety or phobias because research into the chemical’s long-term effects on users is still under investigation. However, the research that exists and the World Health Organization claim that CBD is safe and poses no risk of dependence or addiction.

What is fear, and can CBD help manage or cure it?

Fear is not a disease. It is an emotion that may be triggered by an underlying condition, environmental factors, and thoughts. 

PTSD is a prime example of a condition that causes fear. A study published in 2019 -whose focus was cannabidiol as a treatment for PTSD, found that: When taken orally, CBD offers substantial benefits for persons who have PTSD and experience night terrors.

The added benefits of CBD consumption if you have PTSD or experience fear frequently include:

  • CBD has anxiolytic properties, making it useful in the treatment of anxiety and conditions that may trigger fear.
  • CBD counters the effect of THC, meaning if you experience fear while on THC, you may counter the effect by consuming CBD. The options are unlimited, we are talking CBD gummies, pills, consumables, oils, or any other product of your choosing.
  • CBD reduces the expression of fear memory related to contextual and discrete cues.
  • Unlike benzodiazepines/medicines used to treat fear and anxiety, CBD does not cause dependence, and the side effects dissipate when you stop using. 
  • When combined with THC, users experience the entourage effect -referring to a well-rounded experience, in other words, no sirens or voices in your head. 

How long does it take for CBD to alleviate fear?

Depending on the dosage, CBD users feel its effect within 15 to 30 minutes of consumption. Vaping causes the effect faster, but it has some downsides key among them, it introduces liquid to the lungs, and some vape products are not safe for human use. 

We, therefore, recommend sourcing CBD and its accessories from reliable vendors.

Can cannabis cause fear?

Yes. But only temporarily. If you smoke too much cannabis, you may experience hypnagogic hallucinations. Auditory and visual hallucinations are normal and 1 in 20 people in the US experience them. However, some hallucinations may be related to an underlying condition, and some may be caused by parasites. 

Signs that your hallucinations are weed related and not a sign of mental illness include:

  • Hearing people talking about you.
  • The voices go away when you get sober. 

Pure CBD will not cause a high, nor will it cause hallucinations. What may cause hallucinations and fear after consuming cannabis products, include (1) the presence of THC in the product. If weed causes you to hallucinate and you want to avoid that effect, go for CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC. (2) Mixing cannabis with alcohol, medicines, or drugs. The product could also be contaminated. 

The point is, consuming cannabis products may trigger fear in some users. The fear may originate from the feeling that you cannot breathe, swallowing too much air may cause pressure on the chest, and if you let your mind wander, you may enter a mental territory that is filled with fear. 

What is weed paranoia, how long does it last, and can CBD help?

When you smoke too much or consume highly potent weed, THC overstimulates the amygdala. Excessive amounts of cannabinoids in your system cause stress, anxiety, and paranoia.

Weed-related paranoia and fear: what to remember

  • Cannabis affects users in different ways depending on their state of health and mental condition. Some may experience paranoia, fear, and anxiety, and some reach a deep level of relaxation. 
  • Genetics may play a role in how you react to cannabis products.
  • At high doses, THC triggers stress, anxiety, and fear. All you need do is relax and remember that you are high -nothing more. 
  • Females are more sensitive to cannabis. 

What causes fear and how to use CBD to manage the emotion and anxiety

Fear is your body’s reaction to perceived threats. The threat could be physical or emotional. Without it, we and all animals on the planet would not survive. Consequently, fear is a normal part of being human. 

However, if left unchecked, fear may escalate into chronic fear. A crippling condition that may lead to severe symptoms, including suicidal thoughts, repeated thoughts about your current health/thoughts that you could be dying, depression, alcohol, substance abuse, and problems at school or work. 

If you cannot control fear, it is advisable to consult with a specialist. Regular fear causes symptoms including hyperventilation, increased heartbeat, feelings of doom or panic, nervousness, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, trembling, worry, and sweating.

How does CBD regulate mood and manage fear?

According to research, CBD may affect serotonin levels in the body through interactions with the endocannabinoid system. The mechanism through which CBD relieves anxiety is under investigation, and there are conflicting studies. 

What we do know is consumption, and topical application of CBD can help regulate:

  • Mood.
  • Digestion
  • Insomnia
  • Behavior

Lack of sleep, digestion problems, and anxiety are reasons some fear public speaking. By helping the user manage these issues, CBD may make you more confident. Why?

A neuropsychopharmacology study dubbed “Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients” claims that:

  • “Pretreatment of SAD patients with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance (S) and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech.”
  • “Another important observation of this study was that the increase of negative self-evaluation during public speaking was almost abolished by CBD.”

If you have an upcoming presentation at work or college and are nervous, you should consider taking CBD beforehand.

CBD for social anxiety

Social anxiety can cause you to hear voices, you may fear judgment, and it may make solitude an attractive maiden. However, medical studies suggest that CBD can help you get over social anxiety. How?

A study published in the National Library of Medicine claims that CBD has effects on the limbic and paralimbic areas of the brain. When consumed, users experience a noticeable reduction in anxiety. Close to 50 studies conclude that CBD has benefits in the treatment and management of:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder – a condition triggered by a traumatic event. 
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Social anxiety disorder

Apart from fear relief, are there side effects I should know about?

As mentioned, the majority of users tolerate CBD well. However, heavy consumption or the carrier oil may trigger mild side effects, including diarrhea, insomnia, decreased appetite, fatigue, and drowsiness.

Is CBD good for fear and phobias?

The evidence says yes. CBD can help users manage stress, anxiety, depression, mood, and fear. But if there is an underlying condition that may be causing the fear, or if you are on medication that may interact with CBD, we recommend consulting with a doctor before consumption.