While anxiety can be a normal response to stress, it can become debilitating when unmanaged and starts affecting your day to day life. The feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear is meant to help you stay alert for challenging situations and generally serves to help you cope. Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are serious conditions where excessive anxiety interferes with your everyday activities. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the US, impacting 40 million adults every year. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, individuals with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders. Anxiety develops from a complex set of risk factors that include genetics, personality, brain chemistry, as well as life events. There’s also an interesting relationship between anxiety and depression, with almost half of those diagnosed with depression also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

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Women and Anxiety 

Did you know that from puberty to age 50, women are almost twice as likely than men to develop an anxiety disorder? There are many factors that contribute to the higher rates of diagnosed anxiety in women. From hormone fluctuations and brain chemistry to differences in how women and men cope, here are some of the more common reasons that may account for the higher prevalence:

  • Menstrual cycles can impact anxiety levels.
  • Female hormones can contribute to a more easily activated, longer flight or fight response.
  • Women are more sensitive to low levels of a hormone that organizes the stress response.
  • Research shows that testosterone, more abundantly found in men, may help alleviate anxiety symptoms. 
  • Women are more likely to seek help for anxiety and get diagnosed.
  • Women experience residual anxiety from violence and sexual abuse more often than men.

Research has shown that women with anxiety disorders were found to experience a greater illness burden than men. Women also tend to deal with their anxiety by agoraphobic avoidance while men often turn to substance abuse.  

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Common Anxiety Disorders Among Women

Here are the most common anxiety disorders among women in the US:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Women with GAD worry excessively about normal, everyday issues like family, money, health, and work. Those suffering from GAD often experience jumping to the worst case scenario about a situation when there is little to no reason to worry. They can experience a wide array of side effects including stress-related physical symptoms like insomnia or upset stomach. Women diagnosed with GAD have a higher risk of depression and other anxiety disorders when compared to men. 

Panic Disorder

This condition is twice as common in women than in men. Women experiencing panic disorder have sudden attacks of terror when there is no actual danger. With the fear of impending doom or loss of control, panic attacks can alter your sense of reality and lead to unexplained physical symptoms. Individuals have reported believing they’re having a heart attack or dying when they’re actually experiencing a panic attack.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Also referred to as social phobia, social anxiety disorder is diagnosed when people feel very anxious and self-conscious during everyday social situations. Women with social phobia experience a strong fear of being watched or judged by others. They can experience embarrassment easily and have panic attack symptoms. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD refers to unwanted thoughts or behaviors that lead to anxiety. Women with OCD may check the oven again and again or perform the same routine over and over in order to control the anxiety these thoughts cause. However, left unmanaged, these rituals often end up controlling the person.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD happens after someone experiences a scary, shocking, or dangerous event. Five out of ten women experience a traumatic event and women experience traumas differently than men. 

Anxiety Treatments

While there are vast, effective therapy and counseling treatment options available that don’t require the use of pharmaceutical medications, anxiety often requires a comprehensive, multi-tiered course. Self-management and care are so important when it comes to the successful long-term management of anxiety disorders. Lifestyle changes and healthy habits can also provide an important foundation for those suffering from anxiety. 

The Risks of Pharmaceutical Anxiety Medications  

There are several types of pharmaceutical medications available for treating anxiety. The four major drug classes of medications prescribed for anxiety disorders are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and benzodiazepines. 

All four major drug classes for anxiety medications cause a laundry list of short-term side effects that include:

  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Feeling agitated or restless
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Nausea
  • Sexual problems
  • Insomnia and sleep problems
  • Upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Blurry vision
  • Tremors
  • Excessive sweating    
  • Confusion
  • Loss of memory or concentration

The FDA requires all antidepressants to have a black-box warning related to the risk of suicide in children and young adults. Anxiety pharmaceutical drug options, especially benzodiazepines, pose severe risks of addiction, cognitive decline, motor vehicle accidents, and overdose when combined with opioids or alcohol.

The Endocannabinoid System and Anxiety

The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating everyday functions including mood, stress, and anxiety. It is composed of fatty ligands called endocannabinoids that bind to a vast network of cannabinoid receptors located throughout the brain, immune system, central nervous system, and organs. The endocannabinoid system is constantly at work to ensure all of our physiological systems remain balanced and in homeostasis. 

This important regulator works as a buffer to make sure we don’t develop an illness as a result of all the stressful stimuli that we experience. However, unmanaged, chronic stress can eventually impair our endocannabinoid system, downregulating the CB1 receptor to brain regions responsible for emotion processing. Chronic stress also leads to less anandamide, an important feel-good endocannabinoid. With weakened endocannabinoid signaling, we are more vulnerable to developing anxiety and depression. Boosting CB1 signaling may offer significant therapeutic promise for preventing and treating anxiety disorders– that’s where CBD comes in.

CBD for Anxiety

While we still need a lot of clinical research completed before we can make any conclusions, the existing preclinical and anecdotal data is quite promising for CBD as a viable treatment for anxiety. There are several studies that showcase CBD’s ability to enhance CB1 signaling and promote neural regeneration among the hippocampus.  

Beyond endocannabinoid signaling, CBD’s promising anti-anxiety properties are shown by how it interacts with serotonin 5-HT1A receptors in the brain. These receptors are targeted by pharmaceutical drugs in anxiety treatment. Animal studies have discovered that CBD may lower heart rate and blood pressure while also reducing anxiety levels. In a human trial, neuroimaging of healthy patients given 400mg of CBD isolate displayed that the relaxation experienced might have been caused by the activity in the limbic and paralimbic brain system.  

Since anxiety is such a broad term that can refer to numerous disorders, most research that’s been completed on the topic with CBD is typically concentrated on one type alone. The most commonly researched is social anxiety disorder. One study found that CBD considerably reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort during speech performance while alleviating stress levels prior to the test. 

How Can CBD Help Women With Anxiety?

CBD may offer a multi-faceted approach for helping women cope with anxiety. By potentially enhancing endocannabinoid signaling, promoting neural regeneration, and interacting with serotonin 5-HT1A receptors, CBD may offer comprehensive therapeutic promise for this condition. CBD may also offer stress-relief properties for helping address chronic, unmanaged stress which can significantly increase your risk for developing anxiety. Anxiety can also be a side effect caused by PMS and menopause. CBD’s interaction with our complex endocannabinoid system may also address these underlying causes of anxiety. 

How to Use CBD for Anxiety

Since all cannabinoid therapy varies from person to person, this also is especially true with anxiety. The results and effectiveness highly vary on the person, the administration method, product cannabinoid profile, timing, and dosage. Some women find value when using CBD on an as-needed basis while others report needing to use it consistently in order to experience less anxiety overall.

We recommend self-experimenting with dosage and timing to find what works best for you. When it comes to understanding the effects of any new supplementation, it’s also wise to keep a journal where you track your dosage, timing, and anxiety. This can give you a clear set of data points for creating the proper CBD regimen for anxiety management and allowing you to better understand how it affects you. 

Similar to grapefruit, CBD can cause drug interactions by temporarily deactivating the cytochrome p450 system. If you are currently taking medication, it is crucial to speak to your healthcare provider first before trying CBD. Combining CBD with certain anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals can exacerbate the undesirable side effects. However, it is important to work with your doctor to find the right comprehensive treatment for your anxiety.

Tip: Try taking our Pause Tincture sublingually and holding the oil under your tongue for at least 60 to 90 seconds for quicker relief.

Press Pause CBD for Anxiety

As women, we understand the complicated nuances of our body chemistry and how it impacts our search for viable anxiety management tools. That’s why we’ve handcrafted our high-quality CBD products just for you. We’re always happy to help you find the right products for alleviating anxiety and addressing its underlying causes. Please contact us for more information!    

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