How is CBD used for anxiety?

Anxiety disorders will affect one in four Americans in their lifetime, producing excessive worry, fear, and stress, and interfering with everyday situations. Although these disorders often run in families, they can also be a consequence of environmental stress and chemical changes in your brain. Anxiety disorders are frequently treated with medication and talk therapy, but some people are turning to CBD to help with their condition. Can CBD really help with anxiety?

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a chemical compound that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. By supporting our endocannabinoid system, CBD can help in many of our brain and body functions, including our ability to handle stress and anxiety.

How does CBD work for anxiety?

Researchers believe that CBD influences receptors involved in the modulation of serotonin, a chemical in your body that regulates anxiety, happiness, and mood. Low serotonin levels are associated with both depression and anxiety. CBD may act by helping your body process serotonin.  

Cooking with CBD animated graphic

What kinds of anxiety disorders is CBD used for?

Several clinical studies have found that CBD may be helpful for managing the conditions below.

  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • General Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobia disorders

Can CBD help you sleep?

Research has shown that CBD contributes to relaxation and promotes better sleep. A 2019 study focused on patients with anxiety and sleep problems found that CBD helped ease their symptoms within a month.

How much CBD should you take for anxiety?

Dosing for anxiety has been shown to follow a bell-shaped curve, which means that response is more likely at low-to-intermediate doses (around 300 mg) than higher. 

If you’ve never taken CBD before, it’s best to start low and go slow. If the initial dose doesn’t cause relief, you can increase it slightly after a week, being sure to follow the product’s guidelines. It may help to keep a diary of your dosage and how you’re feeling each day. This can help you truly understand what works best.

How can I maximize the effects of CBD for anxiety?

To maximize the effects of CBD on your mood and mental health, it is recommended you take it with the following supplements:

  • Omega-3 EPA and DHA are two crucial omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish that have been found to improve depression symptoms.
  • 5HTP is a chemical by-product of the essential amino acid L-tryptophan. 5THP increases the production of serotonin.

What are the side effects of CBD?

According to a World Health Organization report, CBD is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.” Some people have reported mild side effects, such as drowsiness, light-headedness, and a dry mouth.

Can CBD cause anxiety?

No, CBD doesn’t cause anxiety, in fact, it promotes relaxation and reduces frustration.

Because cannabis is known to produce anxiety, some anxiety sufferers believe that CBD could affect them negatively. The substance in cannabis that has been linked to anxiety is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC also causes the “high” in cannabis. However, CBD is extracted from hemp and, by law, it only contains trace amounts of THC.

What can I do to make sure CBD is safe for me to use?

  • If you suffer from an anxiety disorder and would like to try CBD, seek support from a mental health professional. This is particularly important if you’re taking medication, as CBD could interact with your current treatment.
  • If you’re currently on medication, do not stop taking it unless you’re being advised by your doctor or healthcare provider. If you’d like to come off your medication, speak to your doctor, so they can help you do it gradually.
  • CBD targets our individual chemical make-up, which means it’s different for everybody. Start low and go slow and focus on what works for you.

The Bottom Line

Research suggests that CBD may help those who suffer from general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and panic disorder. CBD can also be helpful in promoting better sleep. CBD doesn’t cause anxiety the way THC is reported to do in some cases.

The quality of CBD products is not regulated, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any over-the-counter CBD products. Be sure to check the label to confirm the product has received third-party testing for quality. CBD supplements can interact with other medications, so it is important to talk with your doctor before beginning the regular use of any CBD products.


  1. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-nave social phobia. NCBI, 2011.
  2. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. NCBI, 2019.
  3. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. NCBI, 2015.
  4. Cannabidiol presents an inverted U-shaped dose-response curve in a simulated public speaking test. NCBI, 2018.
  5. Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. NCBI, 2010.
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