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Anxiety rates around the globe continue to rise, especially amongst the younger population. According to the World Health Organization, around 3.6% of 10-14 year-olds and 4.6% of 15-19 year-olds experience an anxiety disorder. Additionally, research also noted that the social isolation installed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in depression and anxiety among children and young adults.

Clearly, there’s a mental health crisis going on, and it’s seriously affecting the younger population. Mental health conditions such as anxiety can have a debilitating effect on one’s life. This can be made worse if a child is already growing through the usual growing pains. That said, a new study suggests that introducing your child to CBD oil may help them manage their anxious feelings.

CBD For Your Child’s Anxiety?

CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, which is the ingredient responsible for giving marijuana users a high, CBD has no psychoactive effects. CBD has been associated with a number of health benefits, so much so that CBD as a wellness ingredient has blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry. One of the benefits associated with CBD has been its effect on mental health, particularly anxiety. As such, researchers from Orygen, a not-for-profit company focused on mental health research in teenagers and children, sought to find out if CBD can boast the same benefits in younger people.

We’re seeing more and more young people experiencing anxiety — it’s the fastest growing form of mental ill-health in young people, and we urgently need innovation in treatment.

Cannabidiol is a promising treatment option which appears safe and effective. We need further research to confirm this and explore its value.” Patrick McGorry, study co-investigator, professor and executive director at Orygen.

For the pilot study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the researchers recruited 31 participants from Orygen’s primary care services. The participants were between the ages of 12 and 25 and had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, they failed to show improvement following five cognitive behavioral therapy sessions.

About the study

Each participant was given a 200-milligram capsule of cannabidiol a day, which increased to 400 milligrams after one week. For those who didn’t show any significant improvement, their dosage increased from 200-milligram increments up to 800 milligrams per day. Participants were also offered biweekly cognitive behavioral therapy sessions for 12 weeks, even though they hadn’t responded to previous therapy.

Participants were also asked to fill in a questionnaire on symptoms such as panic attacks, situational anxieties, worries, and flashbacks. 

Alleviates anxiety symptoms

According to the findings, CBD was found to help alleviate anxiety symptoms. In fact, the researchers reported that the participants experienced a 42.6% reduction in the severity of their anxiety symptoms and impairment following 12 weeks of treatment with cannabidiol.

“The young people had fewer panic attacks and could do things which they were previously unable to do like leave the house, go to school, participate in social situations, eat at restaurants, take public transport or attention appointments by themselves.

That’s an amazing change in the group which has had treatment-resistant, long-standing severe to very severe anxiety.” Paul Amminger, study author and professor at Orygen’s Center of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

Amminger also noted that cannabidiol did not produce any side effects like suicidal thoughts, irritability, or sleep problems. These side effects are common in people taking SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). In fact, the most common side effects were mild sedation and fatigue. That said, the symptoms eventually disappeared after a couple of days.

CBD for mental health

Despite the incredible findings, Amminger does caution against believing that CBD is a remedy for all those dealing with anxiety.

Rather, the study just highlights the potential that CBD has in regards to anxiety management.

Amminger acknowledges that a larger, gold-standard, randomized, controlled study is needed that allows them to say with some certainty that there are, or are not, real treatment benefits and effects when it comes to CBD and anxiety.

Is CBD safe for children?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that CBD is unsafe for children. That said, the FDA has only approved one CBD product that can be administered to children,  and that is a prescription drug called Epidiolex that treats epilepsy-related seizures.

Want to know more?

Catching a breath may help you with your anxiety and stress. Dr. Ela Manga, an integrative medical doctor and author of Breathe: Strategizing Energy in the Age of Burnout, on how you can manage anxiety, stress, and burnout using your own breath.

Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

References

Berger, M., Li, E., Rice, S., Davey, C. G., Ratheesh, et al. (2022). Cannabidiol for Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorders in Young People: An Open-Label Trial. The Journal of clinical psychiatry83(5), 21m14130. https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.21m14130

Loades, M. E., Chatburn, E., Higson-Sweeney, N., Reynolds, et al. (2020). Rapid Systematic Review: The Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness on the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in the Context of COVID-19. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry59(11), 1218–1239.e3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2020.05.009

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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