Ways to use CBD for Panic Attacks | Benefits | Dosage

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Ways to use CBD for Panic Attacks | Benefits | Dosage

Panic attack is an exaggerated reaction to the body’s normal physiological behaviour in the face of the danger. A chronic progression of the stress can lead to frequently occurring panic attacks, and when the recurring cycles of panic attacks are not controlled they may turn into a panic disorder.

A panic attack starts with a sudden rush of intense chemicals in the brain, where you experience an enormous pounding of your heart, increased level of oxygen and the blood circulating to the muscle and trembling of hands.

Although it is not a life threatening disease, it certainly has implications for quality of life due to its repetitive nature. And it is one of the most prevalent mental disorders today, and it is known to affect 3-5 % of the population with most of the people experiencing it once in their lifetimes.

So the first step in preventing a panic attack is to understand them.

How Panic Attacks Occur?

An incremental series of changes in the chemicals present in the brain sets off a panic attack. And the first step commences when the Amygdala, a region in the brain in charge of managing fears, perceives a danger and then it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. The SNS of the brain becomes all set to release adrenaline, a fight-or-flight hormone, which surges the heart and breathing rates in order to get oxygen and blood to the muscles of the arms and the legs.

When you have a panic attack you experience a change in blood flow and numbness in feet and arms along with light headedness and severe nausea.

When a panic attack reaches its peak, the prefrontal cortex then takes the responsibility of subsiding it by stimulating the peripheral nervous system to release acetylcholine that decreases and winds down a panic attack.

A panic attack can occur out of the blue at any time and at anywhere and it usually lasts for 20-30 minutes.

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Causes of Panic Attacks

There are many variations to the panic attack, they start without a warning and suddenly become severe within a few minutes. It is still unclear what causes a panic attack, but any cues in the environment that have a link to a traumatic past experience, a family history of  panic attacks or any kind of genetic basis or any other biological manifestation, medical conditions or a significant transition in life may trigger a panic attack.

Some of the major root causes of a panic attack are as follow:-

  • A traumatic past experience or because of the places where you went through some disturbing event.
  • When you are in a constant fear of having another panic attack.
  • A prolonged stress and severe anxiety because of some personal matter.

Women are at larger risk of experiencing a panic attack as compared to men according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But in contrast to its causes, panic attacks have effective treatments.

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What are different types of Panic Attacks

People may experience the following types of panic attacks:-

  • Spontaneous or uncued panic attacks- these occur without any previous signs or warning. These are related to any present situation or environment regardless of their resemblance to any traumatic experience and they are also known to even occur in your sleep.
  • Situational bound or cued panic attacks- they occur as a result of exposure to previously traumatizing location or place. For example, a person having a fear of dark and enclosed space may experience a panic attack when entering a movie theatre.
  • Situationally predisposed panic attack- here, although a person who has a fear about a situation or place may experience a delayed attack or do not have an immediate attack on exposure to that place.
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How are Panic Attacks Diagnosed?

This is the crucial step, since there are similar symptoms to many different diseases and people may mistake them to be another. This step is generally determined by a health expert. So as to make you certain about your conditions you need to follow some steps.

Clinical Diagnosis

For the successful diagnosis of the stages of your disease, here are some steps that you need to follow:-

  • You need to undergo a complete physical examination.
  • You need to take a blood test and an ECG to check your thyroid or other medical conditions and your heart working respectively.
  • A psychological evaluation to get a clear idea about your symptoms.

Criteria for Diagnosis of Panic Attack

According to the Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5) by American Psychiatric Association (APA) if you have the following symptoms you may be prone to panic disorder, these are as follows:-

  • You experience recurring, unexpected panic attacks that last for or over a month.
  • If you constantly fear about having another panic attack or have a continued fear of the consequences of an attack.
  • You observe a significant change in your behaviour and social dealings because of your attacks.
  • Your attack should not be a result of consumption of any kind of drugs or other substance abuse.
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Treatments for Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can be debilitating and distressing taking an emotional toll of the patient. So, they need to be treated before the symptoms become extreme and the patient start showing changes in their behaviour and starts avoiding the places and the people, which may make his daily life hard to live.

There are so many effective treatments that the patient can benefit from. The most common among them are psychotherapy, pharmacological treatments or sometimes a combination of both and little changes in your lifestyles can greatly pave a way in lessening the frequency of the attacks and may ultimately cure them completely.

1) Medications

These are generally proven to be potent against treating panic attacks. Depending upon your symptoms and diagnosis, your doctor may recommend you one of the following medications.

  • Antidepressants– such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Zoloft and Prozac (fluoxetine) to bring a calmer effect on your brain. These drugs are generally safe and produce low levels of side effects and are the first priority among the doctors.
  • Anti-anxiety medications- this category of drugs are commonly used as a tranquilizer that depresses the central nervous system, these use benzodiazepines such as Xanax, which are given in the acute phase of the panic attack.
  • Serotonin-nonepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRTs) –these are yet another class of antidepressants which protect you against future attacks.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOZ)- they have some rare and serious side effects so they can’t be used more commonly.
  • Beta Blockers– they effectively suppress the symptoms associated with the panic attack. Example of these are carvedilol, propranolol.

There are so many medicines that work differently for different patients so you need to thoroughly need to find out what works best for you. Some of the drugs like benzodiazepines can be habit-forming, which may cause physical and mental dependence. If a particular medicine does not work for you, you may switch it on the doctor’s recommendation.

2) Psychotherapy

This form of treatment is taking the world by a storm, and this usually tops the list because of its effective nature. This treatment is also called the talk therapy. The most important category of  psychotherapy is the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which helps you first learn about your symptoms and then teach you to cope with them by carefully observing your own thoughts, behaviour, and reactions to the panic attacks.

It helps to reduce your fears by teaching you to change your beliefs and allow you to rethink the severity of a panic attack from destructive to pragmatic level. Tthe last step involved in this therapy is exposing the patient to the same traumatic place and letting them experience the past scenes.

Lifestyles changes

By bringing little changes in your daily routines can readily reduce stress and improve your overall health. For example-

  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Staying physically fit.
  • Practice deep breathing and other relaxations and stress management techniques.
  • Practice visualisation and mindfulness
  • Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and other substances.
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Current research on Panic Attacks and CBD

How do we know whether CBD is effective in treating panic attacks? So, to know about this let us go through some research studies:-

  1. Most people who experience a panic attack do not develop panic disorders and recover without any treatment. Study suggest that among persons that ever had a panic attack only 12.8% passed the DMG-5 criteria for panic disorders. A panic attack has a lifetime prevalence of 13.2% and women are as much as two times more likely to experience it than men.
  2. One study from 2011 showed that out of the two groups of people with social anxiety disorders, one were given CBD and the other were given placebo and were asked to face a large crowd. The people who were given CBD experienced reduced anxiety.
  3. One study from 2015 suggested cannabidiols as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Many preclinical, human experimental, studies found that CBD could be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.
  4. A 2019 study, revealed that 91% of the 11 patient that had PTSD experienced reduced symptoms after consuming CBD.
  5. Study suggests that for treating anxiety 300-600 mg of CBD is significantly enough.
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Moving towards CBD

There is lots of misinformation about CBD. Does it get you high? Does it even work for anxiety and panic attacks? Is it illegal? Etc. well to make things less confusing for you. We have gathered some valuable information about CBD, and through this article we will help to get your doubts clear about CBD.

CBD is also known as cannabidiol, it is one of the 113 identified cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. CBD is obtained from hemp cannabis plant which is different from the marijuana and THC. Unlike THC, the CBD is neither psychoactive nor makes you high. CBD has very promising effects to alleviate anxiety, pain and panic attacks.

It is extracted in either powdered or oil form, however its legality is still an issue. The CBD products that have less than 0.3 % level of THC are legal in some places only.

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How CBD effects the Panic Attacks

CBD is gaining popularity in terms of its efficiency in the treatment of many illnesses. CBD is a kind of non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, that works in relieving stress and reducing anxiety.

Our body has a biological pathway called the endocannabinoid system which is known to regulate our mood, appetite, etc.

The chemical structure of CBD is such that it fits perfectly with many receptors of the ENS. The two most common types of the receptors of ENS are CB1 AND CB2, the CB1 is primarily found in the brain and controls the CNS and the CB2 is found in the immune system. CBD interacts with many compounds present in the ENS and produces many effects on the mind by activating the adenosine receptor which helps to achieve the lower level of anxiety and ultimately reduce the panic attacks.

It has a large pharmocological profile, so CBD plays an active role in controlling the panic attacks by binding with the receptors which are known to regulate fear and anxiety-related behaviour, mainly CB1 receptor, serotonin 5-HT receptor, the transient receptor potential (TRP).

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How CBD can be used for Panic Attacks

CBD has become a popular go-to solution and it can be used in a wide variety of products to treat anxiety and panic attacks without getting you high. With CBD’s legality being a hurdle, it is still available in the market to be used as a medicine and that too in varied forms. So here are some of ways by which you can get your hands on CBD:-

  • Many CBD infused teas, beers and CBD blended coffees are consumed to relieve anxiety and improve sleep.
  • One of the most innovative ways by which you can instantly cope with a panic attack is by consuming CBD infused edibles which produce calming and soothing effects that last for a long period of time.
  • Some of the most commonly used edibles are gummies, capsules, candies, etc.
  • CBD oils and oral sprays are also equally important.
  • You can take a drop of CBD oil or a tincture under your tongue when you feel you have just started with a panic attack for faster relief.

The doses of the drug may vary from person to person and from person’s age, but always start with a small dose and gradually increase it when you feel that your body can handle it and always consult your doctor to make sure it is safe for you and taking CBD does not interfere with the other medications.

You need to also make sure that the CBD drug that you are using is obtained from an authentic buyer and that it does not contain any preservative, fillers and heavy metals.

As of 2008, the FDA has only approved a pure form of CBD oil called Epidiolex, for treating epilepsy and a rare form of juvenile seizures.

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There is no denying that CBD helps in curing a number of diseases and elicit relaxing and a smoothing effect, but as we know that there are some products that are not FDA approved. So, you need to do a thorough research about the various factors like the tolerance level of the patient, the effective dose limit, is it safe with other medications as it may bring up some side effects.

So here some mild side effects, that CBD may show sometimes:-

  • Drowsiness
  • Decrease appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Changes in weight
  • Changes in alertness
  • There are some research evidence that suggest that it causes mild liver injury
  • CBD sometimes interacts with the other drugs such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, opioids, etc. causing additional side effects.

A research done on animals suggests that a long time use of CBD can reduce the testicular size, sperm count and it even do the same to the male offspring when it is given to the mother, but the research on the effects of CBD on humans are still in their preliminary stages. But it is recommended to not give CBD to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Since the FDA does not regulate CBD for treating anxiety, so people must use their discretion when buying the drug.

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Benefits of using CBD

There have been ample studies that show that CBD has been a game changer when it comes to treating panic disorders and relieving anxiety. Some other benefits of using CBD are as follows:-

  • The CBD oil improves stress level, induces better sleep and also improves pleasure in life without causing intoxications and making you high.
  • CBD erupted onstage as a miracle remedy assumed to cure the symptoms of social anxiety disorder (sad), generalised anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • CBD produces anxiolytic effects when it is microinjected in the mid dorsal periaqueductal grey, a part of the brain that is integral to anxiety.
  • It helps to reduce seizures in people with Dravet Syndrome.
  • Evidence from Acute Psychological studies suggest that CBD reduces the anxiety caused by the THC when they are administered together.
  • A pure form of CBD is non-psychotic and can be safe for kids and pets.
  • It is beneficial for the treatment of psychosis and movement disorder.
  • It improves the serotonin levels by activating our adenosine receptors which can reduce stress and anxiety.
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Dosage of CBD for Treating Panic Attacks

This is the most crucial step to get the effective results. So, it is recommended that you take a standardized dosage depending upon the severity of the disease and the tolerance level of the patient.

The CBD is available in oils, edibles, creams etc. each differing in their effectiveness due to the amount, duration and the administer method by which they are consumed.

The dosage of CBD ranges from as low as 10-20 mg a day to as high as 1500 mg per day. The intake of CBD products vary solely on the condition, symptoms and the weight of the patient. The considerable dose recommended by WHO is 100-300 mg/day and the dosage of the only approved CBD product by FDA i.e. Epidiolex is to start with 2.5 mg/kg of body weight, twice daily and increase it to 5 mg/kg twice daily after a week’s usage.

A 2019 study suggested that 57% adult males were able to reduce the symptoms of anxiety by consuming 300-600 mg of CBD. And the, another study showed that there is lack of anxiogenic effect of CBD at a higher dose.

It is recommended that you start with a low dose until you find the right spot and gradually increase it on your doctor’s recommendations.

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Ways/Forms of CBD FOR PANIC ATTACKS

By now you must be familiar with the different products of CBD that are administered indifferent ways to treat mental disorders, like:-

  • Oils-you can either smoke or vaporise the oil to get therapeutic effect during stressful events. Their doses vary depending on their volume.
  • Sublingual and nasal sprays- these are best alternative to for those who have trouble swallowing capsules, but they are equally effective in bringing relief.
  • Capsules- they come in various sizes and have a specific dosage.
  • Edibles-they include different types of gummies and candies.
  • Vaporized oil or cannabis flower- they can be used in therapy to calm and soothe your nerves.

All the above mentioned products varies in the quality and effectiveness, so it is ideal for a beginner to first consult a doctor and know the appropriate dosage amount before consuming it.

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Pros and Cons

Pros
  • It is a non-psychotic drug which is safe for kids.
  • Improves the serotonin level thus providing calmness.
  • Recent studies have shown promising future and positive outcomes of CBD.
  • It has natural healing properties.
  • Available in many forms.
  • Helps you customise your dosage and time according to your needs.

Cons
  • It is not safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • CBD products may contain heavy metals, feelers and high amount of THC.
  • May cause mild liver injury in high doses.
  • Oral consumption may cause side effects like dry mouth, low BP, light headedness.
  • May interfere with other antidepressant drugs.
  • Research is limited to preliminary stages.
  • Availability of unlicensed products.

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