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Does CBD Battle Work-Related Anxiety?

Does CBD Battle Work-Related Anxiety?

September 09, 2019

In the battle to beat work-related stress, we need all the arms we can muster. Cannabidiol (CBD) may become our close ally. 


Sixty-four percent of adults report work as a common stressor in America. [1] Chronic stress may evolve into work-related anxiety, which the American Psychological Association describes as “harmful to both physical and emotional health.” [2] Anxiety eats away at our well-being from the inside out. But can CBD really help?


In the early 1980s, researchers confirmed that CBD inhibits the anxiety-inducing effects of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in human beings. [3] CBD antagonizes THC by increasing anandamide, the natural endocannabinoid with priority for cannabinoid receptors. [4] Nonetheless, the anxiolytic effects of CBD extend beyond simply countering THC.


In individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD), administration of CBD has been shown to regulate regional cerebral blood flow to the limbic and paralimbic brain areas. [5] CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels for SAD patients tasked with public speaking. [6] Animal studies have found CBD as effective as diazepam (a benzodiazepine) for reducing anxiety-related responses. [7,8]


The standalone anxiety-reducing effects of CBD may be attributable to interaction with 5HT (serotonin) receptors. Several experiments have found that while CBD does not agonize cannabinoid receptors, it does directly activate serotonin receptors. [9,10] According to the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, “serotonin may be associated with physical health as well as mood.” [11] Pharmaceutical medications for depression and anxiety include selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, which aim to increase serotonin in the brain. [12]


As mentioned, CBD also indirectly elevates anandamide. Upregulation of the endocannabinoid system has been correlated to neurogenesis in the hippocampus, which may mediate the effects of chronic stress. [13] While the mechanism is still not precisely clear, an increasing number of studies suggest that CBD exerts anxiolytic effects in humans.


For example, in a sample of 72 adults with anxiety or poor sleep, CBD improved anxiety symptoms in 57 patients and improved sleep in 48 patients. [14] Better sleep may aid stress reduction over time through the cascade effect.


CBD has shown promise as an anxiety-reducing agent, but it is important to address the issue on every possible front. The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends sharing one’s feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional. Taking time off may also help. Finally, accepting anxiety – rather than fearing/fighting it – may actually take some of the power from these feelings. [15]


Tight deadlines, workplace politics, and excess workloads are among the myriad of issues that many face in the office. CBD may be a viable addition in the battle to win back your sense of calm. Always speak to a healthcare professional if you find that feelings of stress are becoming overwhelming. Remember that mental health comes first.



  1. American Psychological Association (2018). Stress in America: Generation Z. Stress in America™ Survey.
  2. Coping with Stress at Work. (2018). Retrieved July 14, 2019, from
  3. Zuardi, A. W., et al. (1982). Action of cannabidiol on the anxiety and other effects produced by δ99-THC in normal subjects. Psychopharmacology,76(3), 245-250. doi:10.1007/bf00432554
  4. Schier, A. R., et al. (2012). Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Revista Brasileira De Psiquiatria,34. doi:10.1016/s1516-4446(12)70057-0
  5. Crippa, J. A., et al. (2010). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: A preliminary report. Journal of Psychopharmacology,25(1), 121-130. doi:10.1177/0269881110379283
  6. Bergamaschi, M. M., et al. (2011). Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients. Neuropsychopharmacology, 36, 1219. Retrieved from
  7. Almeida, V., et al. (2013). Cannabidiol exhibits anxiolytic but not antipsychotic property evaluated in the social interaction test. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry,41, 30-35. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2012.10.024
  8. Schier, A. R., et al. (2012). Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Revista Brasileira De Psiquiatria,34. doi:10.1016/s1516-4446(12)70057-0
  9. Campos, A. C., & Guimarães, F. S. (2008). Involvement of 5HT1A receptors in the anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol injected into the dorsolateral periaqueductal gray of rats. Psychopharmacology,199(2), 223-230. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1168-x
  10. Jurkus, R., et al. (2016). Cannabidiol regulation of learned fear: Implications for treating anxiety-related disorders. Frontiers in Pharmacology,7. doi:10.3389/fphar.2016.00454
  11. Young S. N. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience: JPN32(6), 394–399.
  12. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). (2018, May 17). Retrieved from
  13. Campos, A. C., et al. (2013). The anxiolytic effect of cannabidiol on chronically stressed mice depends on hippocampal neurogenesis: Involvement of the endocannabinoid system. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology,16(06), 1407-1419. doi:10.1017/s1461145712001502
  14. Shannon, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: A Large case series. The Permanente Journal, 23. doi:10.7812/tpp/18-041
  15. Greenstein, L. (2018, February 22). What to do if your workplace is anxiety-inducing. Retrieved July 15, 2019, from

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