Have you seen contradicting messages about cannabis use and anxiety? Learn whether cannabis causes or lowers anxiety. Dr James Connell explains. Read Now. does cbd oil cause rebound anxiety? our culture is becoming more open-minded and accepting towards cannabis, and we think that is a really good thing. research on cannabis, especially cannabidiol Yes, full-spectrum CBD products can cause or worsen anxiety in some people. Here’s why it affects anxiety differently and what you can do about it.
Does Cannabis Cause Anxiety?
When researching cannabis and anxiety, you often find opposing statements. We’re warned that those with anxiety or depressions shouldn’t use cannabis. At the same time, cannabis is prescribed for anxiety and depression. Learn about why this contradiction exists and whether cannabis causes or lowers anxiety.
Dr James Connell
- Cannabis is prescribed for anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
- CBD is the main cannabinoid prescribed for anxiety and has very limited side effects. It’s quite safe.
- THC can also be prescribed for anxiety however requires more vigilance and caution when taken with anxiety or other mental health conditions.
In this video, Dr Jim explains why there’s a contradiction around whether cannabis can be used to help with anxiety or whether people with anxiety and other mental health concerns shouldn’t use cannabis.
In this article, we answer a question that was asked by a honahlee community member named Chloe. Here’s Chloe’s question
“I’ve been reading through the info on your website (which has been extremely helpful by the way – so thank you so much for it). However, I’ve come across a discrepancy I would like some further info on.
Mainly on the use of cannabis for anxiety, it says on your Medical Conditions Treated by Cannabis (And Side Effects) that the TGA has approved use of medical cannabis for anxiety (and anxiety disorders) in the past. But then further down in the next subheading (Who should not be using cannabis) it states that people with anxiety disorders shouldn’t be using it.
Basically I’m just looking for clarification on whether it is advised to use medical cannabis for anxiety and anxiety disorders. I have found this same conflicting information on a few different sites, while also hearing anecdotal evidence that it has helped alleviate anxiety symptoms for individuals. Any information you could provide to me would be greatly appreciated.”
Cannabis causes and relieves anxiety – a contradiction
Mental health is one of the most commonly TGA approved areas for medical cannabis. These conditions include:
To understand if it’s safe to use cannabis for anxiety, you need to understand cannabis and the chemical compounds CBD and THC, a bit more deeply. Once you understand CBD and THC at a high level, (no pun intended), and the concept of a ‘therapeutic window’, you’ll see how cannabinoids, one’s therapeutic window and dosing all work together.
Without an understanding of these three concepts, it’s easy to understand why these contradictory statements are often made.
CBD is useful and ‘safer’
There are multiple types of medical cannabis products prescribed for anxiety. Cannabidiol (CBD) predominant treatments are very safe and quite effective for anxiety. And, it’s rare that CBD actually induces any further anxiety in patients. Occasionally at very high doses, it can cause irritability and hyperactivity. But, this is more common with CBD isolates.
So, when we talk about cannabis medicine and anxiety, CBD isn’t something that you generally need to worry about.
THC is useful but needs more vigilance
THC is also prescribed to help with anxiety disorders. It can help with relaxation, sleep, and it can help with traumatic memories and changing the nature of the way that we remember certain events. THC can also provide an alternative perspective on certain situations and helps distance people from the stress of their situations.
But THC is something that directly stimulates the cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It has a stronger impact on parts of the system that regulate anxiety. In some cases, more often than CBD, too high a dose of THC may provoke cannabis-induced anxiety.
The ECS’s purpose is to maintain homeostasis and balance within systems around the body. This means that the endocannabinoid system needs to be able to upregulate and downregulate certain neurotransmitters within the systems that are being activated. Because the goal of cannabinoid medicine is to help the body find and maintain homeostasis again, when THC is used in too high a dose, it can actually start inducing the symptoms that you’re trying to alleviate.
The therapeutic window
A therapeutic window is the drug dose needed to maintain the benefits and exposure of the medicine that’s effective but avoids any adverse events (AEs). In this case, an AE would be increasing anxiety rather than lowering it.
Everyone has their own therapeutic window where THC is effective. Some people have a very narrow therapeutic window and this means that they’re more prone to getting unwanted side effects with a lower dosage. Some people have a really large therapeutic window. So this means that they could use higher doses of THC and not get an increase in paranoia or any anxiety.
Dosages and your therapeutic window
Even if you have a narrow therapeutic window, THC may still be beneficial in treating your mental health related condition or their anxiety. It just means that when initiating treatment with a THC formulation, you need to start at extremely small. Dr. Jim says:
“We need to start extremely small, pretty much micro doses. And, the treatment needs to be done in a very intentional sort of manner. So people need to be very aware of how the THC is making them feel.
In the early phase of using a THC formulation, it’s really beneficial to do a sensitization protocol. This sensitization protocol involves using very small, barely perceptible doses for the first four days. What this often does is, instead of overwhelming the endocannabinoid system, it stimulates the endocannabinoid system and it often broadens the therapeutic window for that person.
The result is that the individual may have a broader range of dosing where THC and cannabis medicines are effective for treating their conditions.”
Without taking a low and slow approach in the early stages of treatment with cannabis medicines, you may get a worsening of symptoms. Too high a dose can cause paranoia, agitation, restlessness, and actually make you feel a lot worse. This can and does put people off using cannabis medicines. This can also happen with other medications, however formalised dosages make it less likely to happen.
Dr. Jim also makes the important observation that, “It’s important to have proper guidance when using such a powerful medicine because of the potential for it to have such wide-ranging effects, and because it’s tapping into a really powerful system within the body that is so important for maintaining balance and homeostasis. Cannabis can affect a lot of different body systems.”
So, does medical cannabis cause anxiety?
Medical cannabis may cause anxiety if not administered properly. Cannabidiol (CBD) is relatively safe for anxiety, however, at very high doses it may increase anxiety.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is more likely to give you anxiety at a lower dosage and therefore must be monitored very carefully when first starting treatment. Microdosing and a low and slow approach reduce the likelihood of increased anxiety from cannabis medicines.
CBD is a very safe and potentially effective cannabinoid for anxiety. THC can also be used by people with anxiety and it can improve symptoms.
THC however, needs to be used with a lot of caution. It needs to be done in a very intentional, individualised and slow titration to get to that right dose. Otherwise, cannabis can increase anxiety rather than lower it.
CBD oil and all other forms of cannabis are only legal with a prescription in Australia. If you’re interested in buying cannabis for anxiety speak to your GP or a cannabis specialist.
We hope you found this helpful. If you have cannabis questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us a question. If you know someone that this might help, please feel free to share this article. Thanks to Dr. Jim for taking the time to share his wealth of knowledge with the honahlee community.
does cbd oil cause rebound anxiety?
our culture is becoming more open-minded and accepting towards cannabis, and we think that is a really good thing. research on cannabis, especially cannabidiol (cbd), is expanding with it, as people continue to ask new questions and set out in search of answers. we recently had a specific question come to mind and went looking for as much information as we could find on the matter: does cbd oil cause rebound anxiety?
because of the way cbd interacts with the human body, it does not cause rebound anxiety. rebound anxiety occurs as a bodily response to the withdrawal of a substance or medication. cbd does not affect the pathways of the brain that are related to dependence, and thus cannot create this response.
that’s not to say the relationship between cbd and rebound anxiety is black and white, however. predisposed conditions to anxiety, dependence to substances, and interactions with other medications also matter. now is also a good time to share some good news with you: cbd may be helpful in mitigating rebound anxiety from other medications.
what causes rebound anxiety?
in order to find out what causes rebound anxiety, let’s start with a working definition. according to anxieties.com, “rebound is the temporary return of greater anxiety symptoms after withdrawal from medication than you experienced before [taking] the medication.”
rebounds can happen when the effects of any substance wears off. one common example of this occurs when feeling the “crash” in the afternoon from your morning cup of coffee. but that does you no good if you’re feeling the debilitating effects of anxiety, so let’s keep on track: in order for rebound anxiety to occur, there must be some element of dependence that is present in the first place.
benzodiazepines (xanax, klonopin, valium, ativan, etc) are frequently used to treat anxiety, but they can be habit-forming and long-term use can lead to physical dependence while benzos have been proven effective at alleviating symptoms of anxiety, they are not a sustainable solution due to their long-term side effects. they also do not solve the underlying root of the problem.
taking benzodiazepines result in a physical level of dependence developing as the substance is consumed. as such, withdrawal effects to varying degrees are inevitable, especially within prolonged users. when withdrawal effects are experienced, there is potential for a rebound to occur, bringing with it even further-heightened feelings of anxiety that one is now stuck battling.
cbd and rebound anxiety
cbd is another increasingly-popular way to address the symptoms of anxiety as a whole, and much research has been done to back its efficacy. it is believed that cbd can help inhibit the brain’s receptors that are linked to anxiety, which results in the anxiety response either not occurring or happening at ea much lower level of intensity. as such, cbd can help with rebound anxiety, and can furthermore be helpful for many other forms of anxiety such as generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder.
nobody wants to deal with anxiety, and rebound anxiety can only compound the situation: the lack of the previous solution (anti-anxiety medication) has now contributed to an even higher state of anxiety. enter cannabidiol: not only can cbd help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, but it is also effective at helping with physical addiction to various substances.
cbd has been shown to help with withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, opiates, and more. even further, studies now believe the endocannabinoid system (ecs) as a whole may help subdue addictive urges . cbd helps regulate the ecs, and even at large doses is both safe and non habit-forming.
for these reasons, cbd may attack rebound anxiety on both the mental and physical battle fronts. you may need to experiment to find an effective dosage for your own personal body chemistry, but a sublingually-applied tincture, especially one formulated with other calming adaptogenic herbs will quickly arm you with more ammunition to get through the attack.
do note, though, that the conditions for rebound anxiety must include withdrawal. cbd can be effective at treating rebound anxiety when one is not actively consuming anti-anxiety medication, but it is important to realize that it should not necessarily be taken in conjunction with medications.
cbd and anti-anxiety medications
taking cbd and benzodiazepines such as xanax (alprazolam) at the same time can put one at risk of experiencing heightened, out-of-proportion effects from either substance. cbd inhibits the same system of enzymes that the liver uses to metabolize benzodiazepines, meaning effects are likely to be prolonged. this puts one at a higher risk for side effects such as overdose, sedation, or suicidal thoughts.
the same goes for other benzodiazepines like ativan (lorazepam) and klonopin (clonazepam): combining cbd with these medications can increase risk especially of sedation and impaired thinking/judgment/motor coordination. antidepressants such as tca’s and maoi’s should also not be taken with cbd, as they are also affected by the same processes in the liver as benzodiazepines.
on the other hand, ssri’s such as zoloft (sertraline) are likely to exhibit no adverse reactions when taken with cbd. however, the presence of both results in more competitive effects, leading to decreased effects on both the pharmaceutical and natural sides. therefore, using both ssri’s and cbd together is likely to result in a less effective outcome than taking either individually.
are there any other adverse effects when taking cbd for rebound anxiety?
cbd does have known side effects, though they are extremely mild compared to many other available medications that are used to treat anxiety. common side effects associated with cbd include reduced appetite, drowsiness, fatigue, and dry mouth (though a few of these could also be desired effects for some cbd users). diarrhea is also a rare side effect, though that may also be due to impurities in other components of a given cbd product.
prescription blood thinners and over-the-counter medications such as advil (ibuprofen) and aleve (naproxen), both of which slow blood clotting, are also affected by the same liver enzyme processes as benzodiazepines. this can result in higher levels of medications remaining in the bloodstream, which can further lead to issues such as excess bleeding.
lastly, prospective and/or new mothers should consult with their doctors about any potential issues with using cbd to treat anxiety, or anything else for that matter. although cbd is nontoxic and safe to consume even in large doses, there is no conclusive information on how cbd may affect breastfeeding or a developing fetus.
comparing the side effects
if looking into possible solutions for rebound anxiety, cbd provides one obvious benefit over switching to another pharmaceutical medication: it is all-natural and non-habit forming. exploring cbd as an option can prevent relapse from the chemical that is causing the rebound, and it also makes it possible to not need to replace one pharmaceutical substance with another, thereby potentially reducing further risk toward future rebounds.
as already mentioned, cbd’s side effects are relatively mild compared to other pharmaceutical options. for example, xanax has a list of side effects that is over 20 symptoms long, including, but not limited to drowsiness, sleep and memory problems, irritability, diarrhea, vomiting, and dry mouth. many of cbd’s side effects are also present with xanax, though the list of side effects for xanax far exceeds anything that cannabis comes close to matching.
grogginess, headaches, and depression are other side effects of benzodiazepines. regarding depression, antidepressants often exhibit many of these same side effects. additionally, further side effects from various antidepressants include irritability, anxiety, and sexual problems such as decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
we are not here to denounce the role of modern medicine in our world: however, there is also an undeniable chance that a never-ending cycle of pharmaceuticals may not ever solve the problem. as we just saw, anti-anxiety medications can cause depression, and antidepressants can cause anxiety. cbd, on the other hand, has been shown to potentially help with both anxiety and depression and a whole lot more.
there is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution to rebound anxiety, or to any other form of anxiety, either. regular cbd usage may be able to help, though. if you have any further questions, drop us a line and we will be happy to see how we may be of further assistance.
from the bottom of our hearts, we support your journey and hope we can help, whether it be through providing knowledge and information, or via our 100% organic, third-party lab tested cbd products.
Can Full-Spectrum CBD Cause Anxiety?
In short: yes, full-spectrum CBD can cause anxiety in some susceptible individuals. Although research has shown that pure cannabidiol (CBD) can relieve anxiety, this isn’t necessarily true for full-spectrum CBD.
If you’re sensitive to THC due to certain risk factors, you can get more anxiety or even a panic attack from taking a large enough dose of a full-spectrum CBD product.
Read on to learn how full-spectrum CBD can cause anxiety and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
Research on CBD and Anxiety
Unlike its cousin THC, CBD can’t cause anxiety or any other mind-altering effects. On the contrary, multiple human studies have demonstrated that pure CBD can relieve various types of anxiety:
- In a 2011 Brazilian study, CBD capsules improved anxiety caused by public speaking in people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) (1)
- In a similar 2019 Japanese study, pure CBD oil improved anxiety in teenagers with SAD and avoidant personality disorder (2)
- In another 2019 study done in Colorado, CBD capsules improved anxiety scores in almost 80% of the study participants (3)
- The researchers of a 2020 review paper concluded that “CBD has a promising role as alternative therapy in the management of anxiety disorders” which include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), SAD, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (4)
Why Full-Spectrum CBD Can Cause Anxiety
If pure CBD has been shown to relieve anxiety, then why is full-spectrum CBD different?
It’s because full-spectrum CBD is a whole-plant hemp extract. Since hemp is a variety of cannabis that contains small amounts (0.3% or less) of THC, this means full-spectrum CBD can have THC.
THC is the main compound responsible for the cannabis high. Its potential side effects include increased anxiety, paranoia, and panic attacks.
There’s some evidence that THC has a biphasic effect on anxiety, meaning that low doses can reduce anxiety, while higher ones can make it worse (5). On top of that, multiple factors can influence how you respond to THC.
According to research, some people have a higher chance of getting anxiety from THC due to: (6)
- Personality traits
- Infrequent use
- History of previous anxiety reactions
- Presence of anxiety disorders or symptoms
- Basal anxiety levels
- Being female
- The environment and the context in which the THC is consumed
This means that for a minority of people, ingesting even small amounts of THC — such as the kind found in full-spectrum CBD products — can actually cause anxiety, panic attacks, and related side effects.
How Much THC is in Full-Spectrum CBD Products?
Full-spectrum CBD products can legally contain up to 0.3% THC, so roughly speaking, a full-spectrum CBD oil can contain as much as 3 milligrams (mg) of THC per one milliliter (ml) of liquid.
For example, here’s a third-party lab report of a high-quality full-spectrum CBD oil showing that the THC content is about 1.6 mg/ml of oil or about 0.17% (a bit below the 0.3% legal cutoff for hemp).
With this in mind, we can estimate that 1 ml (one full dropper in most cases) of your average full-spectrum CBD oil will contain 1-3 mg of THC. Even if you were to take two full droppers, this would only add up to 2-6 mg. This doesn’t seem like much, and for most people, it isn’t.
But for individuals who are highly sensitive to THC due to the risk factors we discussed earlier, this can be enough to cause or worsen anxiety.
My Experience With Anxiety From Full-Spectrum CBD
I’ve personally experienced an uncomfortable high and anxiety that lasted for 3 hours after taking roughly 80 mg of full-spectrum CBD oil. If I had to estimate, it contained about 3-4 mg of THC.
At first, I was surprised because full-spectrum CBD products had always relieved anxiety for me.
But after doing some research, it made total sense. I’ve smoked cannabis in the past and stopped using it after I began to get anxiety even from a few puffs. I also found many other reports of people who experienced anxiety and even panic attacks from full-spectrum CBD products.
Like other susceptible individuals, I’m so sensitive to THC that even the small amount present in full-spectrum CBD can make me feel anxious.
Using Full-Spectrum CBD for the First Time? Start Low
If you plan on using a full-spectrum CBD product and think it might make you anxious (especially if you have existing anxiety issues), be sure to follow the “start low and go slow” approach to cannabinoids recommended by clinical researchers (7).
Start with a small 5-10 mg dose of CBD and wait for two hours to see the effects. If you don’t notice anything, you can try a higher dose, again stopping for two hours to see if you notice any difference.
Use this method to find the full-spectrum CBD dose that provides you with anxiety relief or whichever benefit you’re looking for.
Alternatives to Full-Spectrum CBD
If you’ve already experienced anxiety from full-spectrum CBD products, you have four options.
First, you can simply lower your dose. In my case, I found that as long as I kept my full-spectrum CBD oil doses below about 70 mg, I still got the calming effects and none of the anxiety.
Another option is to switch to a different brand. After trying various full-spectrum CBD oils I’ve noticed more pronounced THC-related effects from certain brands.
These two choices are ideal because full-spectrum CBD provides the greatest benefits thanks to the “entourage effect” produced by all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other active compounds working in synergy (8). So even though THC is the issue, it’s nice to have a little bit for that extra boost to the entourage effect.
But if you want to play things safe, you can also go with broad-spectrum CBD products. This type of extract contains the same ingredients as full-spectrum CBD but removes THC (undetectable traces might remain). This way, you can maximize the entourage effect while avoiding THC.
The last option is to use CBD isolate products, which contain only pure CBD and nothing else. But this isn’t ideal since you won’t be getting the synergistic benefits of all the other cannabinoids and terpenes found in full and broad-spectrum CBD.
Pure CBD can’t cause anxiety because it’s a non-intoxicating compound that has anxiety-relieving effects. However, full-spectrum CBD can potentially cause or worsen anxiety symptoms, depending on your sensitivity to THC.
While most people will be fine, some are so sensitive to THC that even a small amount is enough to trigger anxiety.
That’s why you should always check the third-party lab test reports (called Certificates of Analysis) to see the precise levels of THC in your product.
Keep in mind that although THC comes in two forms, delta-9 and delta-8, we’re mostly concerned about delta-9 because delta-8 is less psychoactive and naturally found in much smaller quantities (unless you’re using delta-8 products).
An example of a third-party Certificate of Analysis (CoA) showing that a full-spectrum CBD oil contains 1.6 mg of THC per ml.
There’s little regulation in the CBD industry, so it’s common for products to contain more or less CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids than advertised on the label.
You should never buy CBD from companies that fail to provide third-party test reports since they help you confirm that the CBD and THC levels are accurate and you’re getting your money’s worth.
Besides, these tests can also verify that there are no contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals.
Gleb is a freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada specializing in CBD and cannabis. He’s read thousands of studies on CBD and other supplements, helping him translate complex science into plain language. Gleb has tried and reviewed dozens of CBD brands and products, written third-party testing reports, and knows the CBD industry inside and out. When not writing, he likes to kickbox, travel, and tell everyone how awesome intermittent fasting is.