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Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety that causes people to have recurring thoughts (obsessions), which result in compulsive behaviours that serve as a kind of stress reliever, helping them to feel more secure.
While there are a number of different types of OCD behaviour, two of the most common are an obsessive fear of germs, which tends to manifest in compulsive hygiene practices like constant handwashing, and an obsession with order, which may lead to repeated counting or re-ordering of things. Far from just a ritual or habit, OCD can severely disrupt a person’s daily life, making ordinary activities challenging and complicated.
While the exact cause of OCD is unclear, there is scientific research that suggests it may be linked to the brain not responding properly to serotonin – the body’s feel-good chemical. Unsurpisingly, selective serotonin reuptake inhibtors (SSRIs) are often prescribed, in addition to therapy, for those suffering from OCD. The downside to these, and many other anti-depressant medications, is the range of side-effects people may experience – anything from loss of appetite and nausea to trouble sleeping. CBD, however, is showing great promise as a natural treatment because of its anti-anxiety and mood-enhancing benefits.
What makes CBD unique to other natural anti-anxieties is its ability to interact with the endocannabinoid system, which regulates everything from mood to memory. For those with low serotonin levels, CBD is shown to activate the serotonin receptors, helping to boost the natural production of this chemical, which in turn enhances one’s mood and reduces levels of anxiety. Equally important, CBD helps to increase levels of the GABA chemical in the brain, which also has an anti-anxiety effect.
As with a number of other anxiety disorders, OCD can also be triggered by a dysfunctional stress response. When a person is exposed to any kind of stress or threat, their ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered. As soon as the threat passes, it is switched off. If their stress response is not functioning optimally, however, they remain on ‘high alert’, so to speak, which leads to longer periods of anxiety. By acting on the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been shown to help regulate nervous system activity, which helps to stabilise the body’s stress reaction.
Another challenge for those suffering from OCD is a lack of sleep. Not unlike other anxiety disorders, OCD tends to stimulate mental activity, robbing a person of a good night’s rest. CBD helps to promote relaxation making it easier to fall asleep but, equally important, assists with better quality sleep too.
While there are no published studies on CBD as a treatment for OCD, the existing scientific and anecdotal evidence of the benefits of CBD for other anxiety disorders is encouraging and certainly makes a case for it as a good choice for anyone in search of a natural antidote.