Research, Treatment

Researchers Explore CBD as an Option to Help COVID-Related Anxiety

April 14, 2021 03:30 pm ET
Researchers Explore CBD as an Option to Help COVID-Related Anxiety

When the COVID-19 first began to travel across the globe, many would not have thought that a year later, there would still be reinforced lockdowns, mandatory masks, and continued social distancing. However, as this continues to be a new reality, many are buckling under the pressure, or separation, or stress, or anxiety over the current state of the world and socialization. In other words, many citizens across the globe are presenting with COVID-related anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Fortunately, a study found that CBD could be the key to helping treat such COVID-related anxiety. 

Researchers Look into CBD for COVID-Related Mental Health Issues

Saoirse O’Sullivan, Carl Stevenson, and Steven Laviolette had their research published mid-February this year and hypothesized that CBD “could be a therapeutic option for the treatment of COVID-19-related anxiety disorders”. The team explains that CBD is commonly bought and used to treat anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders– so they decided to assess whether it can be effective for treating COVID-related anxiety. 

The team explains that CBD is an interesting chemical from a pharmacological perspective as it interacts with the many protein receptors, transporters, ion channels, and enzymes. Due to its ability to interact in such a manner, it’s possible to benefit so much from the cannabinoid. The study also found that CBD is not very potent, which is why there are limited adverse effects- making it well-tolerated and safe for consumption.  

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a consequence many face as a result of a traumatic experience, including pandemics and epidemics. The Psychiatric Times explains that the “pandemic has triggered an array of emotional, physical and economical issues”. The Psychiatric Times has also outlined protective and stressors which are associated with the pandemic and are as follows:

Protective Factors

Stressors

  • Social support
  • Financial stability or employment
  • Health care resources
  • Safe workplace
  • Wellness programs
  • Adequate personal protective equipment
  • Promoting diversity
  • Timely Covid-19 testing
  • Traumatic Stressors
  • Severe illness
  • Hospitalization 
  • Witnessing death
  • Death of a loved one
  • Extreme exposure to COVID-19 details
  • General Stressors
  • COVID-19 exposure/quarantine
  • Social isolation
  • Employment/income loss
  • Working from home with kids
  • Being a caregiver
  • Making difficult medical decisions
  • Inadequate personal protective equipment

O’Sullivan and team found that the World Health Organization post-disaster mental health issues account for between 20% and 50% of the population presenting with mild to very severe mental health issues, such as PTSD. Additionally, those that had mental health pre-COVID-19, are at higher risks and need more help than before. WHO also suggests that loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol consumption, and drug usage are expected to continue rising amidst the pandemic. It is these factors, along with the stressors, which are triggering the large number of people presenting with long-lasting anxiety, PTSS, and PTSD. 

CBD as a Treatment Option for COVID-Related Anxiety

One of the most beneficial properties of consuming the cannabinoid CBD is that it has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety. A study by Jamie Corroon and Joy Phillips found that the top three medical conditions for which CBD is being consumed include pain, anxiety, and depression. O’Sullivan and team found that CBD was effective for relieving stress, inducing relaxation, and improving sleep too. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence on the efficacy of CBD for treating stress, anxiety, and anxiety-related disorders. 

O’Sullivan and team found that acute doses of 300mg or 600mg of CBD were effective in reducing anxiety as well as reducing blood pressure and cardiovascular response to physical and mental stress. They also found that CBD had the ability to reduce nightmares and improve the quality of sleep in those with anxiety disorders along with reducing pain. 

The study concluded by stating that “Symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress are going to be prevalent as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in those most closely affected by the disease, and in those with pre-existing anxiety conditions” and that “clinical evidence base supports the hypothesis that CBD could be a novel pharmacological option for treating COVID-related anxiety disorders that merit testing through well-designed clinical trials”. 

It is important that you take care of your health and mental state during the pandemic. If you need assistance with dealing with anxiety and its related disorders, book an appointment with one of our doctors so that we can help you take care of yourself amidst the pandemic. 

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