According to the Mayo Clinic, a panic attack is defined as “a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.” Panic attacks differ from anxiety symptoms in that panic attacks appear suddenly, whereas anxiety symptoms gradually intensify over time. Additionally, panic attacks typically subside after ten minutes or less, whereas anxiety can persist for longer periods of time. As reported, one million Americans experience panic attacks monthly, while three million will suffer from panic disorder at some point in their lives.
Panic attacks are an unfortunately common experience and are accompanied by a slew of variables, such as rapid heart rate, trembling, shaking, chills, hortness of breath, hot flashes, nausea, sense of impending doom, headache and dizziness, among other symptoms. While panic attacks are as common as they are extremely nerve-racking or even traumatic experiences, with an estimated 19.1% of American adults suffering from some kind of anxiety that includes panic disorder, many are turning toward CBD to help with treatment.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound derived from the cannabis plant that can yield ample medical benefits without leading the consumer to experience any psychoactive effects. Specifically, science is working diligently to learn more about its healing properties when it comes to managing anxiety and even working to reduce or subdue panic attacks.
CBD can help in the context of a panic attack due to how the body is designed to react to CBD (and other cannabinoids such as THC). When CBD enters the bloodstream, the Endocannabinoid System's cannabinoid receptors become activated, signaling to the brain to reduce panic and anxiety, also known as the natural “fight or flight” phenomenon. While the process itself is much more complicated—especially as it pertains to balancing a healthy stress response—research into CBD and anxiety shows much promise. A 2017 clinical study found that CBD appears to exhibit anti-panic properties, showcasing an urgency for deeper research into the matter to be conducted, especially when it comes to demonstrating CBD's full potential as a treatment for panic disorder.
CBD, which can be consumed in a variety of methods, can help reduce anxiety and ultimately result in fewer panic attacks. Additionally, CBD has an effect on the brain that helps signal the neurotransmitters known as serotonin, which directly influence a person's feeling of happiness.
Another way CBD impacts the brain is in its potential to encourage the neurogenesis process in the hippocampus, which is responsible for long-term memory and cognition. One 2013 study found that mice that had been given CBD were better equipped to resist stress than those that weren't provided with CBD. In other words, taking CBD could potentially help the user become more resilient to stress and other panic attack-inducing elements.
From showing promise in reducing symptoms of fear to helping calm the brain, CBD is a natural product that shows great potential in playing a beneficial role in combating panic attacks in a multitude of ways. While we learn more about how CBD can help pacify panic attacks specifically, it is pertinent to consult a medical professional if you are experiencing a range of anxiety symptoms such as recurrent or intense panic attacks, as they can also indicate another underlying condition.