At any given moment, around 15 million Americans are struggling with Social Anxiety Disorder. It typically begins around the age of 13, a crucial time in the development of lifelong social patterns.
People with social anxiety often feel trapped in their own minds, yearning for social bonds and new relationships, but are unable to find them because of irrational fear. Therapy and medication are given to alleviate their stress and make it easier to branch out, however, pharmaceutical drugs are not very efficient in the long run. More and more people are turning to CBD to deal and are finding that it works quite well.
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What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Also referred to by its acronym, SAD is the 3rd most prominent mental health condition worldwide with a lifetime prevalence rate of 13 percent. It’s a condition characterized by the fear of social situations where one will have to interact with new people, be it meeting someone for the first time, going to a party, public speaking, and the list goes on.
Most people view those with social anxiety as shy, reclusive, awkward, distant, or unfriendly – but paradoxically, people who suffer from SAD actually want to make friends and acquaintances. However, they are inhibited by their fear. Some of the situations that trigger these emotions include: Being introduced to people, being teased or criticized, being watched or observed while doing something, having to speak in a formal or public situation, and meeting authoritative figures.
Treatment typically includes medication coupled with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a type of speaking therapy that aims to make the patient mentally aware of negative thinking so they can more effectively deal with negative situations in the future. While medication seems to only have a temporary, fleeting effect on anxiety, cognitive-behavioral therapy seems to be more productive and longer-lasting.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in both cannabis and hemp plants. Unlike its psychedelic counterpart THC, CBD has no mind-altering effects and it’s associated with a myriad of health benefits. It was initially used to treat a rare form of childhood epilepsy, but now you can find it everywhere and people are using it to manage chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, and more.
The reason CBD can impact so many different physiological functions is because of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a network of receptors that can be found throughout the bodies of all mammals. We naturally create cannabinoids which bond to these receptors to regulate different processes in our bodies and maintain homeostasis.
The ECS helps manage things such as immune function, appetite, sleep wake cycles, pain response, and the list goes on. However, when we are ‘cannabinoid deficient’ our bodies become destabilized and no longer function optimally. This is where supplementing with plant-based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) comes into play.
The Research for CBD and Social Anxiety
While research on CBD and social anxiety specifically is lacking, it’s not impossible to find. There are also numerous studies on the topic of cannabidiol and anxiety in general, and when you consider that in conventional medicine SAD is treated with a combination of standard anti-anxiety medications and therapy, it’s not a stretch to reason that CBD could be used the same way.
Now let’s take a look at some of the studies looking predominantly at the social side of anxiety disorder. Back in 2010, a small study examined brain scans of people with SAD and found that CBD not only made the participants feel better and more relaxed, but it actually caused changes in blood flow to regions of the brain that have been linked with social anxiety.
Another small study the following year looked at the effects of cannabidiol on anxiety related to public speaking. The results were largely positive. A few years later, in 2015, an analysis of multiple studies revealed that CBD is a viable treatment option for various types of anxiety, including social anxiety disorder.
I’d like to quickly mention that from my own personal experience – as someone who gets somewhat terrified at the thought of public speaking – CBD definitely helps. And while I do believe there is a time and place for THC, it’s definitely not when you’re trying to overcome your anxiety about addressing a large crowd.
So bearing that in mind, some good quality CBD products should definitely be in your arsenal if you have an upcoming speech you’re nervous about, or any other social situation that’s weighing heavily on you. Since social anxiety can be debilitating at times, it’s important to make sure you figure out the right dosing prior to your event.
Also make sure to use lab-tested products from a reputable company. I can’t stress this enough but your CBD experience will be greatly impacted by the brands you use. Any company worth their salt is usually willing to go the extra mile to make sure their products are safe, effective, and correctly labeled.