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Can CBD Release You From the Clutches of Social Anxiety?

Jane Francis
July 3, 2021

Social anxiety typically begins around the age of 13, a crucial time in the development of lifelong social patterns. People with social anxiety tend to feel quite nervous or uncomfortable in social situations. They are very concerned that they will do something embarrassing or humiliating, or that others will think badly of them.

People with social anxiety often feel trapped in their own minds, yearning for social bonds and new relationships, but are unable to find them because of irrational fear.

Therapy and medication are given to alleviate their stress and make it easier to branch out, however, pharmaceutical drugs are not very efficient in the long run. More and more people are turning to CBD to deal and are finding that it works quite well.

What Does Social Anxiety Look Like?

When faced with a feared social situation, people with social anxiety experience some of the following:

Negative thoughts (what you think)
  • People with social anxiety tend to have negative thoughts about themselves (e.g. “I’ll have nothing to say”), as well as how others will react to them (e.g. “Others will think I’m weird”)
  • People with social anxiety also tend to focus their attention on themselves during social situations. They focus on their performance and how anxious they feel and look
  • Examples: “I’m going to say something stupid” ;  “I’ll get anxious and others will notice” ;  “They won’t like me” ;  “Others will think I’m stupid” ; “I’ll offend someone” ; or “No one will talk to me”
Physical symptoms (what you feel)
  • People with social anxiety are often very concerned about visible signs of anxiety, such as blushing or trembling.
  • Examples: racing heart, upset stomach, shaking, choking sensations, sweating, blushing, trembling, dry mouth, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, urge to urinate, etc.
Avoidance and safety behaviors (what you do)
  • People with social anxiety will often try to avoid or escape social situations. If they do go into social situations, they tend to do things to feel less anxious or to protect themselves from embarrassment or negative evaluation (e.g. if I’m worried about saying something stupid, then I’ll try to avoid talking).
  • Examples: Avoiding (e.g. not going to the party), escaping a scary social situation (e.g. leaving the party early) or engaging in protective behaviours to try and stay safe (e.g. drinking alcohol, staying quiet and avoiding eye contact).


When Does Social Anxiety Become a Problem?

It’s normal to feel anxious in social situations from time to time. For example, many people feel anxious in job interviews or when having to give a formal speech. Social anxiety can be a problem when it becomes too intense or happens too often. When it does, social anxiety can cause significant distress and affect many aspects of a person’s life including:

Work and school
  • Examples: difficulty with job interviews; problems interacting with bosses or co-workers; trouble asking and answering questions in meetings or classes; refusing job promotions; avoiding certain types of jobs or career paths; poor performance at work or school; decreased enjoyment of work or school.
  • Examples: difficulty developing and keeping friendships and romantic relationships; trouble opening up to others; difficulty sharing opinions
Recreational activities/hobbies
  • Examples: avoid trying new things; avoid taking classes or lessons; avoid activities that involve interacting with others, such as going skiing or to the gym
Day-to-day activities
  • Examples: difficulty completing daily activities, such as going grocery shopping, going out to eat, taking the bus, asking for directions, etc.

The Research for CBD and Social Anxiety

While research on CBD and social anxiety specifically is lacking, it’s not impossible to find. There are also numerous studies on the topic of cannabidiol and anxiety in general, and when you consider that in conventional medicine SAD is treated with a combination of standard anti-anxiety medications and therapy, it’s not a stretch to reason that CBD could be used the same way.

Now let’s take a look at some of the studies looking predominantly at the social side of anxiety disorder. Back in 2010, a small study examined brain scans of people with SAD and found that CBD not only made the participants feel better and more relaxed, but it actually caused changes in blood flow to regions of the brain that have been linked with social anxiety.

Another small study the following year looked at the effects of cannabidiol on anxiety related to public speaking. The results were largely positive. A few years later, in 2015, an analysis of multiple studies revealed that CBD is a viable treatment option for various types of anxiety, including social anxiety disorder.

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Final Thoughts

I’d like to quickly mention that from my own personal experience – as someone who gets somewhat terrified at the thought of public speaking – CBD definitely helps. And while I do believe there is a time and place for THC, it’s definitely not when you’re trying to overcome your anxiety about addressing a large crowd.

So bearing that in mind, some good quality CBD products should definitely be in your arsenal if you have an upcoming speech you’re nervous about, or any other social situation that’s weighing heavily on you. Since social anxiety can be debilitating at times, it’s important to make sure you figure out the right dosing prior to your event.

Also make sure to use lab-tested products from a reputable company. I can’t stress this enough but your CBD experience will be greatly impacted by the brands you use. Any company worth their salt is usually willing to go the extra mile to make sure their products are safe, effective, and correctly labelled.

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