All of us struggle with feelings of stress, fear, and unwanted thoughts from time to time. Part of being human is having a stress response that keeps us out of danger by providing us with signals that a threat is near. But, for the majority of healthy individuals, these symptoms come and go appropriately, rather than lingering and causing destruction to our mental state.
Those who have OCD, formerly known as obsessive compulsive disorder, have a different experience. For them, fear, anxiety and intrusive thoughts can be absolutely debilitating, making it difficult to navigate through the world in a productive and healthy way.
OCD is technically a type of anxiety disorder, and it can be especially hard to treat because of its unique symptoms. But there are options. And, more OCD sufferers are incorporating CBD into their treatment, for reasons that we will be discussing in-depth today.
What is OCD?
Many who don’t actually have the disorder use the term flippantly and facetiously. A person who likes to maintain a clean house may casually joke that they have OCD, as may someone who likes to make to-do lists each day. The reason why is because a big part of having OCD is requiring incredible, often unhealthy levels of control over daily life – this is where the obsessive part of obsessive-compulsive disorder comes into play. Obsessing over certain aspects of day-to-day life is a method for maintaining a false sense of control over what sufferers deem a frighteningly unpredictable world.
However, it’s more complex than that. Along with the obsession comes compulsion, in the form of routines and rituals that can be anywhere from irrational to destructive. The idea is that when certain unhealthy thoughts become overwhelming, the OCD sufferer turns to habitual compulsions in an effort to make the thoughts go away. These compulsions can be repeating certain words in their head a set number of times, lining up items in the home to make them perfectly symmetrical, washing their hands for an exact number of seconds or something else. The idea is that these compulsions are performed with strict rules ritualistically in hopes of exercising control.
That’s not all. Those who have OCD have overwhelming and often unrealistic fears and paranoias that present themselves in the form of what are known as intrusive thoughts and images. These are thoughts and images that seemingly pop into the mind out of nowhere and are extremely upsetting. The OCD sufferer struggles to get rid of these thoughts and images, which cause escalating anxiety.
What Causes OCD?
OCD is the result of an overload of messages in the brain combined with an imbalance of neurotransmitters. In healthy individuals, when unwanted thoughts and images arise, they can easily be shrugged off, because the neurotransmitters step in to calm things down. Those with OCD do not have this luxury, as there is no mediator in the brain, so to speak, to let them know that their fears are irrational and therefore not worthy of attention.
How Does One Develop OCD in the First Place?
Well, OCD is technically an anxiety disorder, and so it will develop as a result of the same culprits that result in other forms of anxiety. It’s argued that those whose anxiety turns into OCD are ones who have felt a lack of control early on in their lives, and so the mechanisms at work when OCD is present are an attempt to overcompensate by trying to maintain unhealthy levels of control within the psyche. Many OCD sufferers are trauma survivors who have struggled to properly process the traumatic events, which is why OCD can also be a symptom of PTSD.
How is OCD Usually Treated?
Treating OCD is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Like all mood disorders, sufferers respond to some forms of treatment better than others. Severe cases of OCD may respond well to psychiatric medications that essentially numb the part of the brain that is active during an obsessive-compulsive episode. Many sufferers also respond well to CBT, which stands for cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT aims to retrain the brain to manage thoughts in a different way using healthier coping mechanisms. There are also other forms of therapy that may be productive.
It’s argued that OCD can be triggered by low serotonin levels. Serotonin is a crucial neurotransmitter that keeps our minds in a positive and optimistic state. This is why OCD may be treated with SSRI drugs, which increase serotonin levels in the brain. There are some people who wish for a more natural method for managing serotonin.
Could CBD Help with OCD?
Now, let’s talk about how CBD comes into the picture. CBD is a cannabinoid, which means that it interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain that stimulate regulation of brain functions such as neurotransmitter balance, cognitive function and more. It’s argued that CBD acts as a mediator in OCD sufferers by managing the way in which concerning intrusive thoughts are processed. In other words, CBD may be able to essentially step in and stop the mind from spiraling out of control.
Findings suggest that it accomplishes this by regulating the function of the hippocampus which plays a role in mood regulation by processing fears and painful events. Further, CBD seems to have an effect on cortisol, reducing it to healthier levels so that anxiety can be more efficiently managed.
In fact, one clinical study showed direct effects on OCD sufferers.
How Can a Person Take CBD for OCD?
So, how can we apply the information above to starting a productive CBD routine? There are a few things that must be prioritized.
- Speak to a doctor prior to starting, as they must know what you are taking to manage your condition.
- Make sure that you seek out high-quality CBD from a reputable company
- Choose a milligram strength that’s appropriate for the severity of your condition.
- It’s ideal to take CBD daily in the same amount, as this supports the cannabinoid receptors in the brain so that they may operate at their full potential.
CBD is One of the Many Options that OCD Sufferers Have
It’s a holistic and natural product that can be used daily without risk of dependency or legal consequences. If you wish to start using CBD as part of your wellness regimen, then use the above guide to do it properly. And, remember that for many people, managing OCD requires multiple treatment methods in order to achieve success.