For the 18% of Americans dealing with an anxiety disorder, stressful situations can trigger intense and difficult to manage symptoms. While an individual with ochlophobia — an irrational, debilitating fear of crowds — may choose to avoid festival season altogether, this level of fear only affects a small number of people.
Instead, there are many individuals who have moderate anxiety who don’t want their mental health disorder to limit how they experience the world; they want to attend music festivals, but they want to be able to chill out enough to enjoy themselves.
Some might reach for marijuana, but this honestly isn’t the right choice for everyone. It is pretty well know that THC can actually make anxiety and paranoia worse in a small group of people. This means that, if you know this is how weed affects you, you should probably avoid it during festival season. And, if you’ve never actually tried to marijuana in a large crowd and you’re not sure how you will respond, it might be better to avoid trying it for the first time in a triggering situation like a music festival.
Manage Anxiety Without the High
The good news is that there is another cannabis product that can be use to manage anxiety. Cannabidiol doesn’t create a high like most marijuana products, but still has many impressive medicinal benefits. One such benefit is decreasing the symptoms of anxiety.
In 2011, research published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology observed a significant improvement in anxiety caused by public speaking. Additionally, a 2019 animal study observed showed improvement in the behaviors associated with anxiety in rats who were dosed with CBD.
More studies of the effect of CBD on anxiety are in the future. Until then, there is convincing anecdotal evidence that this a product that is effective in many individuals with anxiety. In 2018, a Cannabis and Cannabinoid study found that anxiety reduction is one the top three reason individuals use CBD regularly. In this anonymous survey, 36% of respondents said that CBD “worked very well” for their intended purpose when taken alone.
How Does CBD Work?
Like so many areas of cannabis research, we don’t know as much as we would like to about how CBD improves anxiety. We hope that the legalization of marijuana and further education will reduce the stigma associated with these products and encourage more research in the future.
For now, what we know about the relationship between anxiety and CBD is that CBD effects how the brain responds to serotonin. This neurotransmitter plays an important role in mood management, which is the basis of SSRIs commonly used to treat anxiety and depression.
Specifically, CBD seems to improve how a serotonin neurotransmitter called 5-HT1A is processed in the brain. Although these effect has only been observed in rats so far, the hope is that human studies will soon follow and mimic the same results.
Finding the Right Dosage of CBD for Anxiety
Because there are variations in the strength of CBD present in different products, it’s a good idea to start with a small dose. Many products do have a recommended dose, and this is a good place to start. One Medium resource connects CBD dosage with body weight, saying that a suggested dosage can be calculated by taking 1 to 6 mgs of CBD for every 10 pounds.
The good news is that there are few side effects associated with CBD and it consider to be very safe for consumption. This means that most people can make adjustments to their dosage until they experience relief. That being said, one sign that you’re taking too much CBD is that you begin to experience side effects like fatigue or diarrhea.
Because it might take a few tries to find the right about CBD, we recommend trying it for the first time before you head to an event that triggers anxiety. Give yourself time to find what works for you so you can relax and enjoy yourself at your next music festival.