Cannabis Nurse Medical Reviewer, Lashonda Broom
RN & HHP
Many of us have experienced a sense of panic at different points of our lives. Perhaps we didn’t study for a big test, we may have gotten called into the boss’ office after screwing up a project, or were experiencing a traumatizing situation, like a car accident. While panicking may be relatively common when you are in an upsetting or dangerous situation, panic attacks are something else entirely.
Panic attacks do not happen because a person is confronted with something dangerous or upsetting. They happen out of the blue, and could occur almost anywhere, like when driving a car or walking down the street. They are often accompanied by physical symptoms that can be so severe that many people believe that they are experiencing a medical emergency.
If you suffer from panic attacks, you know firsthand how hard it can be to manage this condition. You may also be curious about alternatives to traditional treatments for panic attacks, such as CBD. Below, we outline some of the research on the use of CBD for panic attacks and panic disorder to help you make a decision about whether or not CBD is right for you.
Understanding Panic Attacks
A panic attack is more than just feeling scared or having anxiety. When a person has a panic attack, they are experiencing a sudden episode of intense fear without any apparent cause. These episodes can trigger severe physical symptoms, which may lead a person to believe that they are having a heart attack or even dying. Although panic attacks are not life-threatening, they can significantly affect an individual’s quality of life.
Panic attacks usually begin without warning, and can happen at any time. A person who suffers from panic attacks may have them occasionally, or on a more frequent basis. If you have frequent panic attacks, it may lead to a diagnosis of panic disorder.
While symptoms of panic attacks can vary, they often include all or some the following:
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Feeling of unreality
- Rapid, pounding heart rate
- Sense of impending doom
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Hot flashes
- Nausea and/or abdominal cramping
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest pain
- Numbness or tingling sensation
These physical symptoms are often so severe that people who suffer from panic attacks seek emergency medical care.
Panic attacks can be incredibly debilitating because many people who have one develop a fear of having another one. This may lead people who suffer from panic attacks to avoid situations or places that they believe may trigger another attack. For this reason, panic attacks are linked to a number of complications, including the development of phobias, avoiding social situations, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and an increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts.
The cause of panic attacks is currently unknown. Scientists believe that genetics, high levels of stress, changes to the way that your brain functions, and/or having a temperament that is more sensitive to stress may play a role. Risk factors for panic attacks include:
- A family history of panic attacks or panic disorder
- Smoking or excessive caffeine intake
- A traumatic event
- Major life stress
- Significant changes in your life
- A history of childhood abuse (physical or sexual)
Panic attacks can be diagnosed after a complete physical exam and diagnostic tests rule out other causes for the physical symptoms of an attack. A psychological evaluation can also help in making a diagnosis.
In most cases, panic attacks are treated through a combination of therapy and medications. Doctors may prescribe an antidepressant medication and/or benzodiazepines (such as Xanax) to manage the symptoms of panic attacks and reduce the likelihood of another occurring.
Is CBD a Good Option for Panic Attacks?
The current standard for treating panic attacks involves the use of prescription medications (antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines) that come with a range of side effects, and in the case of benzodiazepines, have a high potential for addiction. These treatments may not be effective in all cases; 45% percent of patients did not get relief from the use of antidepressants in controlled trials.
One potential alternative to traditional medications to treat panic attacks is using a cannabidiol (CBD) product. CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis plants. Unlike THC — the psychoactive component found in marijuana — CBD does not cause a “high.”
In recent years, scientists have studied the potential health benefits of CBD, including using CBD oil to manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Recent research suggests that CBD may be helpful in managing the symptoms of panic attacks.
In 2017, Current Neuropharmacology pushed a study on the use of CBD as a treatment for panic disorder. This report indicated that CBD may act on certain areas of the brain that are related to panic disorder, such as the amygdala. A single dose of CBD, administered orally, reduced the activity in the areas of the brain that typically “light up” during a panic attack. It may also increase the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, that help to regulate mood.
The study found that CBD does not produce psychoactive effects, induce dependence or tolerance. It concluded that CBD is a promising option for the management of panic disorder, while noting that more research is needed to determine how CBD works on patients who experience panic attacks, as well as the safe and therapeutic doses of CBD oil.
A 2015 analysis reached a similar conclusion, finding that CBD has strong potential as a treatment for a range of disorders related to anxiety, including panic disorder. It noted that in 2010, researchers found that when used on rats, CBD inhibited certain responses the brain that scientists believe may be responsible for panic attacks. Numerous studies have found that CBD can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety, which may be a contributing factor in panic attacks.
While these findings are positive, more research must be done to determine exactly how CBD may help manage panic disorder and panic attacks. Because CBD may help to regulate the areas of the brain that are associated with the panic response, it may be useful in helping individuals avoid panic attacks or manage the symptoms of a panic attack.
Considering CBD? Green Wellness Life Is Here To Assist You
Green Wellness Life is committed to offering safe CBD products that have been independently tested for quality. We only sell the highest-quality CBD products, made from industrial hemp that is grown in the United States. While we are not medical professionals and cannot diagnose or treat any medical or mental health issues, we can lay out the scientific research on the use of CBD for you to review.
If you are interested in trying CBD, we are here to assist. Our product finder can help you choose the right products for your needs. If you want further assistance, you can also call us at 866-244-4223 or email us at any time.
If you have ever had thoughts of suicide, there is help available. Please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. You can also find them at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/