The vaccines are rolling out faster than expected, more people than ever are eligible to receive them, and the economy is picking up. Things should be going good, right? After all, we should be out of quarantine and back to work again soon. Things should be, again, be returning to normal. But for some reason it just seems like it’s not. In fact, some people are reporting that their anxiety and depression have been higher than ever as we’ve been endlessly waiting, and even though there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, that light seems so very far away.
What Isolation and Quarantine Does to the Brain
According to a study published in Scientific American, researchers tracked the brain scans of scientists who spent long periods of time in Antarctica, trying to get a better understanding of the science of isolation. After a fourteen month study, what they found was that the returning workers initially felt joyful to be home, but they were soon overwhelmed by the people, by the noise, by the colors. They retreated into their homes, dealing with mental issues they had not expected to develop.
When the researchers did the brain scans they found that the isolated Antarctica workers had actually lost volume in their hippocampus, the part of the brain that is involved in spatial navigation, learning and emotional processing. The results were so significant that the researchers thought they must have done something wrong, but repeated tests showed consistent results: the altered brains of people in isolation were suffering from deficits that cause depression and PTSD.
And it’s not just the extreme isolation of Antarctica, either. An analysis of more than 3,000 studies of people under quarantine (mostly from SARS or the equine influenza) found the same thing: emerging from quarantine does not make you immediately better. In fact, it can have long-lasting consequences.
How To Deal With the Anxiety of Going Back to Work
But life must go on, and we all want it to get back to normal, so how do we deal with the anxiety, depression, and PTSD of living in quarantine for more than a year? There are several things we can do. First of all, we need to be kind to ourselves. There is no switch that has been flipped which takes us from “COVID” to “COVID Free”. It’s going to be a process, and it’s going to be scary. For many people, the first time you go to a public place without a mask is going to be frightening. The first time you return to a sit-down restaurant probably won't feel the same. Recognize that these feelings are normal and that it’s going to take time for your mind to adjust. Be patient, and practice self care.
Part of that self care could be the use of CBD to combat the effects of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. CBD has been shown in numerous studies to be beneficial for people suffering from certain mental health conditions, and using CBD to relieve the pent-up stress may be a great start on your road to recovery and the feeling of "normalcy."
CBD for Anxiety
CBD, or cannabidiol, interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The body has many different receptors, protein-based chemical structures which receive signals from different stimuli. It is thought that CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, it is believed that this affects serotonin signals. Low serotonin is associated with people who suffer from depression and anxiety.
While there isn’t a wealth of research - yet - the National Institute on Drug Abuse has said that CBD has been found to decrease stress in animals, which showed lower amounts of stress behaviors as well as increased heart rate.
CBD for PTSD
Many recent studies have been done to study CBD’s interaction on people with PTSD. The studies have looked at people taking CBD alone, people taking CBD as a supplement alongside other traditional medications, and people taking CBD while undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy.
There has been research done that shows that taking CBD immediately during or following a traumatic event may stop the onset of PTSD from becoming unmanageable. The study also found that current traditional medicines for PTSD are lacking in efficacy and also have considerable side effects.
Although scientists are still not certain just how CBD affects PTSD, we know that it does have an impact. An article in Frontiers in Neuroscience shows that it might be because CBD affects the amygdala and hippocampus in the brain (which, you’ll remember, is the part of the brain that was damaged during periods of isolation).
What Are The Best Forms of CBD for PTSD?
Many studies have looked into what CBD product would produce the greatest result in people with PTSD. A 2019 study showed that taking capsules along with counseling helped with PTSD symptoms. And a 2016 study of children found that, when topically applied, CBD helped with anxiety and sleep disorders that had been caused by PTSD.
CBD for Sleep Problems
Sleep can be another major problem for people coming out of quarantine, whether the sleep problems are brought on by anxiety or PTSD. Fortunately, CBD has significant studies showing that it may be beneficial as a natural sleep aid.
In one research study from 2019 , 72 test subjects suffering from anxiety and insomnia, reported less anxiety and better sleep after daily use of CBD at a 25mg level.
The emergence from quarantine after COVID-19 is likely going to be stressful (it already is) and we’re going to have many readjustments to make along the way. Among those may include anxiety, depression, PTSD, and sleep problems. Fortunately, CBD may be a beneficial and natural alternative to aid in these situations, as we transition back into the “new normal." Perhaps after the use of CBD, and a little time, we’ll all be able to look back on these stressful times as something we were able to endure and overcome.
Learn more about CBD and check out our products to find what may work best for you!