If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know how scary it can be. If you’ve never had a panic attack, try to remember the most agonizing, all-consuming dread or anxiety that you’ve ever felt. And imagine that feeling comes on suddenly with hardly any warning or trigger. What would you do? How would you calm yourself down?
Just knowing a panic attack could happen is enough for people to stop going out and distance themselves from friends and family. There are a range of things panic attack sufferers can try to avoid these uncomfortable situations—and for some that may include marijuana. More specifically cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.
But can CBD really help treat panic attacks?
Panic attacks are a type of anxiety disorder when someone experiences acute and rapid-onset terror or apprehension. Some common symptoms of panic attacks are:
Panic attacks come on practically out of the blue, not necessarily with a trigger as happens with anxiety attacks. People are often misdiagnosed with a heart attack, when in reality they’re having a panic attack. Unfortunately, it’s not known why some people suffer panic attacks, but scientists’ best guess is that it results from a combination of family history and environmental factors like stress.
As far as preventing panic attacks goes, many people employ tactics like talk therapy, biofeedback therapy, and a regimen of antidepressants or other medications. Some people find lifestyle changes such as daily exercise and a caffeine-free diet help prevent panic attacks, too.
For people in the middle of a panic attack, things that can help are:
Doctors often prescribe benzodiazepines to treat panic attacks. But they’re only really intended for short-term use, and they come with a host of side effects like:
Many people consume cannabis for anxiety and depression, so could it help for panic attacks, too? It can, but you have to be careful about the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC has been known to induce paranoia and an elevated heart rate for some—two things that panic attack sufferers can definitely do without. So that leaves cannabidiol (CBD).
Luckily, the science says that CBD can be effective in treating anxiety and could help prevent panic attacks.
The acute CBD dosing study notes that more research on chronic CBD dosing is needed. Many people consume CBD in moderate doses. Some ways to incorporate high-CBD marijuana into a panic attack-prevention strategy include:
Panic attacks are scary and often debilitating. But for some, adding CBD to their treatment can not only help prevent panic attacks, but also cut them short when they do happen. Have you had success treating panic attacks with CBD? Let us know what works for you in the comments below.
Photo credit: Hailey Kean