Panic attacks, popularly known as Panic Disorder, refer to an anxiety disorder characterized by sudden episodes of intense fear without real or apparent danger. The condition causes a host of physical reactions that make it seem as though you’re readying yourself to counter an imminent danger.
Panic attacks affect an estimated 2.7% of American adults, with women nearly twice likely to develop the disorder as men. Statistics also suggest that up to 50% of all panic disorder cases begin before 24. But if victims do not seek urgent treatment, the condition could trigger or aggravate other anxiety disorders, particularly social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Causes and Symptoms of Panic Disorder
The primary causes of panic disorder are known. However, medical researchers have identified certain factors that play a role in triggering the condition, including:
- Genetic predisposition
- Prolonged stress and anxiety
- Traumatic events, such as sexual or physical abuse
- High caffeine intake
- Disruptive changes in your life, such as divorce or death in the family
- Individual personalities, such as being highly sensitive to stress
- Specific changes in the parts of your brain, especially the parts that control perception
- Certain medications
A panic attack symptoms are pretty much what you experience when your body is in a fight or flight mode.
Some of those signature symptoms include:
- Elevated heart rate
- Elevated breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive sweating
- Hot flashes
- Feeling as if you’re losing control
- Feelings of impending doom, like having a heart attack or even dying
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Chest pain
- Abdominal cramping
Treatment for Panic Attacks
There’s no magic pill for panic attacks. However, there are ways you can prevent these attacks from happening or lessen their impacts. For instance, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, and seeking treatment might help.
Better yet, it’s now emerging that cannabidiol (CBD) can also help to treat or manage panic attacks. Cannabidiol is a compound in cannabis that researchers claim could help with various medical conditions. You can check out list of effective CBD oils for anxiety to uncover how CBD helps to mediate the symptoms of panic attacks.
How Does CBD Treat Panic Attacks?
CBD can treat panic disorder through its interactions with the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system refers to a complex system in the human body responsible for regulating normal homeostasis and controls how the body perceives pain, anxiety, etc.
Now, the endocannabinoid system hosts the body’s endogenous cannabinoids, also known as endocannabinoids. It also contains a series of receptors (known as endocannabinoid receptors) and certain chemicals that affect endocannabinoids’ performance.
The severity of panic attacks’ symptoms depends on the interaction between your endocannabinoids and your endocannabinoid receptors. CBD mediates panic disorder symptoms by interfering with the chemical structure of specific receptors in your body. As such, it reduces the efficiency with which those receptors pick and relay negative sensations to your brains, such as those of pain and anxiety.
Another way CBD edibles for anxiety can relieve anxious feelings associated with panic disorder is by boosting anandamide levels in your body. Anandamide is a particular endogenous cannabinoid that has shown tremendous pain and anxiety-relieving properties. Sadly, anandamide levels are never stable due to the presence of certain chemicals that lead to its degradation, including fatty-acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). And that’s where cannabidiol comes in. CBD suppresses the functions of anandamide inhibitors like FAAH.
Cannabidiol can also treat panic attacks by boosting your brain’s signaling of ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin is a powerful neurotransmitter that plays an essential function in keeping you happy and positive. Researchers often associate low serotonin levels with depression and anxiety. The common treatment for low serotonin levels includes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline and fluoxetine (Prozac).
Now, CBD comes with additional benefits compared to conventional SSRIs. Besides boosting serotonin levels, the substance doesn’t present any worrying side effects.
What Does Research Say?
Although limited studies are investigating CBD for its direct role in treating panic attacks, the substance has shown tremendous results with other anxiety disorder forms. Therefore, it’s logical to infer that it could also help resolve some of the most nagging panic disorder symptoms. A 2011 study investigating the anxiolytic properties of cannabidiol found that the substance was effective against social anxiety disorder (SAD). In this study, participants received either an oral dose of 400 mg of CBD or a placebo. After several weeks, the group that consumed CBD demonstrated remarkable improvements with their condition compared to the placebo group.
In addition to social anxiety disorder, other studies suggest that CBD could also relieve post-traumatic stress disorder (PSD). The substance may reduce PTSD by blocking the replaying of intrusive memories.
It’s also worth noting that CBD doesn’t just improve the anxiety symptoms associated with panic disorder. It may also relieve tons of other side effects of panic attacks.
For instance, a 2016 study found that CBD has antipsychotic effects in schizophrenic patients. Therefore, it can help to ward off the feelings of doom associated with panic attacks. Pain, nausea, and uncontrollable trembling are other panic disorder symptoms that cannabidiol can effectively deal with.
CBD can treat panic attacks by addressing some of the symptoms of the condition. What makes CBD even more effective against panic disorder is that the substance doesn’t present severe side effects. In most cases, you may also experience mild and short-lasting nausea, drowsiness, and dry mouth.