Obsessive-compulsive disorder is one of the most widely misunderstood mental health disorders in the world, with many people thinking that it’s as simple as desiring that things are clean and organized, or that a person practices good hygiene. Commonly abbreviated to OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder is, in fact, a potentially crippling disorder that’s as complicated as it is exhausting. Between 2 and 3 million Americans struggle with the condition, and experience various symptoms on a daily basis that interfere with their ability to thrive in their environments. [Source]
It goes without saying that anyone who has OCD should seek out some form of treatment, because there are various options available. In fact, one of those potential treatments could come in the form of CBD.
Cannabidiol, the primary compound found in the chemical makeup of the hemp plant. It’s legal, natural, gentle and unique in the way in which it affects the human system. Not only will we share what studies have to say about its use for CBD patients, but we’ll also talk about the best methods for taking it.
Even though millions of Americans have OCD, the general public at large doesn’t have a firm grasp on its symptoms or how it manifests. It’s a type of anxiety disorder, and it’s commonly referred to as a thought disorder as well, because it affects the way in which thoughts occur and are processed and filtered by the brain. Essentially, those who have OCD have an overactive amygdala, which is an area of the brain that connects thoughts to feelings and emotions. For those who have OCD, simple thoughts can cause distressing emotions to arise, and the sufferer often feels the need to act on these thoughts in some way in hopes of managing the painful emotions that result.
Those who don’t have OCD have an automatic filtering system in their brains that discard thoughts that aren’t realistic or aren’t particularly useful. We all have confusing, distressing and sometimes bizarre thoughts that pop into our heads. But most of us disregard them so quickly we don’t even remember them. Those who have OCD fixate on these thoughts, obsessing over them to the point that their minds feel out of their control. Trying to simply push away the thoughts proves to be ineffective, and so the patient feels no choice but to engage in compulsions.
The thoughts and images that distress an OCD sufferer are labeled as “intrusive.” They seem to pop into the head at random and occupy enormous mental space and energy. The compulsions that OCD patients engage in, in an effort to get rid of these thoughts and images, are typically controlling behaviors that are employed to establish some sense of order over a mind that feels completely out of control. An example would be a person whose intrusive thoughts relate to health. They may obsess that deadly diseases are manifesting in their body, despite no evidence indicating that this is occurring. In an effort to take back control over these upsetting worries, the person may wash their hands compulsively, to the point of causing skin rashes, each time a health-related intrusive thought arises. Washing the hands as a compulsion makes the person believe that they have regained control over their health.
Causes for OCD
It’s hard to determine an exact cause for OCD, because it is not a condition that results from physical ailments in the body. But typically, OCD is commonly linked to some form of emotional trauma. The amygdala that becomes hyperactive in OCD patients is responsible for processing our stress response, and traumatic stress can damage its function, causing the brain to struggle to organize thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a healthy way.
We now know that those who have OCD have structural differences in their brain from those who do not have the condition, and these structural differences are commonly traced back to some type of trauma, whether it be a singular traumatic incident or a complex traumatic circumstance that persisted at one time in a person’s past, such as being in an abusive family environment.
The good news about OCD, and mental health disorders in general, is that they are more treatable today than ever before. Research regarding OCD and anxiety has become quite advanced, and so psychologists have discovered more effective means for treating the condition.
The primary method of treatment is weekly therapy, in which a therapist will choose a specific modality based on the individual’s needs, symptoms and wishes. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular choice as it helps replace negative, fear-based cognitions with ones that are more positive and rooted in reality.
EMDR is another option. It stands for eye movement desensitization reprocessing and uses rapid eye movement to change the way in which thoughts, emotions and memories are processed by the brain.
Cannabidiol for OCD
Science has taught us that CBD can produce specific effects on a person’s brain through regulatory actions that result from the cannabinoid binding with cannabinoid receptors in various brain regions. These regulatory effects can change the way in which neurotransmitters are secreted as a result of distressing thoughts and may also change neural pathways that connect certain thoughts to specific emotions.
More specifically, studies have found that CBD administered to OCD patients delivered promising results by reducing the instances of intrusive thoughts, while calming a person’s need to execute compulsions. CBD has been widely studied for its effects on anxiety and PTSD as well.
Methods for Incorporating CBD into Your Routine if You Have OCD
If you have OCD and you wish to incorporate CBD into your routine, the first thing that you need to do is have a conversation with both your regular physical doctor and your mental healthcare provider. Both of these medical professionals need to know what you are taking daily to manage specific symptoms. They may be able to help you develop a more personalized routine based on their knowledge of your unique needs, as well as their history with other patients who use cannabidiol.
CBD comes in many forms, including edibles, tinctures and vapes. There’s no single form that’s more effective than the others, so we recommend that you experiment until you find one that works for you. Further, you can take two different forms if you find that each one gives you desired results in a different way.
It's recommended to take CBD daily. We know that cannabidiol works in a cumulative manner, so taking it each day in the same amount may allow the cannabinoid to accumulate in the system in a way that makes it more effective overall. The exact dosage and milligram strength should be based on the severity of your symptoms, as well as your body weight.
Potentially Manage Your OCD in a Unique Way with CBD
Those who have obsessive-compulsive disorder find themselves in an endless and exhausting cycle of intrusive thoughts, obsessions, and compulsions. But additional forms of therapy exist that can put an end to this cycle once and for all. CBD may act as a complementary choice for those who are in treatment for OCD.