Struggling with your mental wellness and dealing with it alone? Not this year, hun.

Whether it’s sleep issues, chronic anxiety, depression, or stress, there has never been more support for mental wellness – clinically, socially, or with product innovation.

Though we still have a way to go to normalizing and prioritizing mental wellness as a society – at Press Pause, we pride ourselves on providing a platform and safe space for discussion, community, and wise advice. Let’s get into anxiety and how CBD can help.

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.

Women are typically more at risk, with the following being the most common anxiety disorders for women in the US:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Women with GAD worry excessively about normal, everyday issues like family, money, health, and work.

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.

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.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD refers to unwanted thoughts or behaviors that lead to anxiety.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD happens after someone experiences a scary, shocking, or dangerous event.

Anxiety conditions often require a comprehensive, multi-tiered course that may combine clinical treatment with alternative therapies. Self-management and care are so important when it comes to the successful long-term management of anxiety disorders and mental wellness generally.

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 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.

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 support 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.

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.

Press Pause for Anxiety

As women, we understand the complicated nuances of our body chemistry and how it impacts our search for viable anxiety management tools. We’re always happy to help you find the right products for alleviating anxiety and addressing its underlying causes.

Click below for anxiety support products.