A Guide to Cannabis and CBD for Social Anxiety
Learn the research and use of cannabis and CBD for social anxiety.
Cannabis is effective in managing symptoms associated with anxiety (read our initial post on anxiety here). Though when we are talking about social anxiety many people consider whether or not cannabis will be effective. When dealing with the social aspects of their symptoms they are looking for something more energizing. Cannabis can still be an effective treatment for social anxiety.
What is Social Anxiety?
To put it simply, social anxiety is anxiety symptoms associated with social activities. Worry or nervousness associated with social settings is a common thing we have all experienced. That nervous feeling when meeting someone new or having to give a presentation. These feelings become a social anxiety disorder when the stress of these situations becomes too much to handle. Worry thoughts leading up to an event may be debilitating and it could cause individuals to avoid all social anxiety which has the potential to negatively affect many other aspects of their life. (source)
Social anxiety is very common, affects approximately 15 million Americans, and the current treatments are effective.
Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety
When having to perform in front of or be around others, people with social anxiety disorder tend to:
- Blush, sweat, tremble, feel a rapid heart rate, or feel their “mind going blank”
- Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach
- Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
- Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
- Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward
- Be very afraid that other people will judge them
- Stay away from places where there are other people
Treatment for Social Anxiety – CBD
Cannabis and CBD are safe and effective treatments for anxiety. That does not mean that cannabis can or should completely replace traditional treatment methods. Cannabis may be used in conjunction with pyschotherapy to help manage the thought patterns associated with social anxiety as well as the physical symptoms. In some cases cannabis may be able to replace traditional medication that have problematic side effects but talk to your doctor about making the best decision for you and your mental health.
A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is typically used for treating social anxiety disorder. CBT teaches different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help you feel less anxious and fearful. It can also help you learn and practice social skills. CBT delivered in a group format can be especially helpful. In a group of people who all have social anxiety disorder, you can receive unbiased, honest feedback about how others in the group see you. This way, you can learn that your thoughts about judgement and rejection are not true or are distorted. You can also learn how others with social anxiety disorder approach and overcome the fear of social situations.
There are three types of medications used to help treat social anxiety disorder:
- Anti-anxiety medications
Anti-anxiety medications are powerful and begin working quickly to reduce anxious feelings; however, these medications usually aren’t taken for long periods of time. People build up a tolerance and need higher and higher doses to get the same effect. Some people may even become dependent on them. To avoid these problems, doctors usually prescribe anti-anxiety medications for short periods.
Antidepressants are mainly used to treat depression, but can be helpful for the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. In contrast to anti-anxiety medications, they may take several weeks to start working. Antidepressants may also cause side effects, such as headaches, nausea, or difficulty sleeping.
Beta-blockers are medicines that can help block some of the physical symptoms of anxiety on the body, such as an increased heart rate, sweating, or tremors. Beta-blockers are commonly the medications of choice for the “performance anxiety” type of social anxiety.
Social Anxiety and Cannabis – What the research says
CBD is effective in calming anxious brains and managing symptoms associated with anxiety but people are often also looking for more of an energizing effect when they are required to be in public and socialize. Therefore managing social anxiety with cannabis is slightly more of a challenge. (source) A 2010 study on sufferers of social anxiety disorder found CBD alone lowered their symptoms and improved their mood. Researchers discovered CBD changed the way they responded to their anxiety. Brain scans showed changes in blood flow in regions of the brain which become active when they experienced feelings of anxiety.
In a 2011 study specifically on the anxiety associated with public speaking, researchers discovered that CBD significantly reduced social anxiety associated with public speaking.
Best Cannabis Treatment for Social Anxiety
For those looking for both the calming and energizing effects of cannabis we suggest trying a combination of THC and CBD. Used in conjunction they can provide both the calming effects for anxiety that the research has shown as well as give you enough energy for socializing. Leafly’s guide to cannabis strains makes a few suggestions specifically for social anxiety. Check that out here.
CBD helps to counteract the psychoactive high associated with THC so the higher the ratio of CBD the less psychoactive effects you should feel. Miss Envy’s tinctures come in both 1:1 CBD/THC and a 3:1 CBD/THC for more freedom in your dosing. Tincture’s are also easy to use and discrete, use the dropper to measure your dose and drop under your tongue or add it to your favourite beverage.
One of our customers Allison (@stonerspice) loves to use a 1:1 THC/CBD tincture to manage her anxiety and a 1:1 ratio is a common choice for anxiety. Read more about her experience here.
We recommend starting with a low dose (a few drops) and increasing until you find the dose that is best for you.