Does speaking in front of an audience terrify you? Do you call in sick on days you’ve got to make a presentation at work? Do you “Irish goodbye” before your name comes up on the karaoke list?
You’re not alone. Stage fright isn’t all in your head, either. It’s part of what is medically known as social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, and it afflicts about 15 million Americans, or roughly 7% of the population. It’s the second-most-diagnosed anxiety disorder (specific phobias are #1).
Social anxiety should not be taken lightly; it has far-reaching effects. Mental distortions around being judged negatively in public situations become physical nightmares for people with social anxiety, inducing pounding heartbeats, sweats, nausea, diarrhea, full-blown panic attacks, and more. What’s worse, severe cases of social anxiety disorder can destroy lives, affecting work, friendships, romantic relationships, school, and simple day-to-day functioning. People struggling with this issue can develop depression and turn to alcohol and other substances, making matters worse.
Doctors don’t know exactly why some people are so prone to the stage fright that is such a big component of social phobia, but experts agree that a combination of genetic predisposition, upbringing, and environmental factors all can have an influence.
Although doctors aren’t clear on the roots of the problem, they can be quick to prescribe anti-anxiety medications (think Xanax or Klonopin) and antidepressants (Paxil, Zoloft, etc.) as a means of treatment. The effectiveness of these medications isn’t great, and is next to nothing unless taken in conjunction with psychotherapy. Consistent therapy can be an important component of treatment for those with social phobia, but it can also be costly, and understandably difficult for people who have trouble… well, socially.
Can CBD be the antidote to public-speaking terror? Some scientists have shown that it can.
A 2010 study focusing on this specific problem had incredible results. A set of patients with stage fright was asked to participate in a “simulation public speaking test.” None of the participants had ever been treated for their anxiety before. Half the patients were given 600mg of CBD before the test began. The other half were given a placebo.
The study speaks for itself: “Pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech. The placebo group presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels when compared with the control group.”
CBD’s anti-anxiety effects are becoming increasingly well accepted and understood, but this is novel information. Imagine it: Instead of freaking out before having to make a speech or a presentation (or worse, just avoiding it altogether), you take some CBD beforehand, allow it time to take effect, and feel much more in control. For the patients in the study described above, all it took was one dose to dramatically reduce the anxiety response associated with stage fright. Maybe CBD can do the same for you.
As a nonprofit educational website in the medicinal cannabis space, we’re as skeptical as they come. We don’t believe in miracles or cure-alls, but we do believe in CBD. And so does science. The risks associated with taking CBD are slim to none, so it might be worth a try next time you’re tempted to call in sick because of that looming presentation, or bail before it’s your turn to sing “Don’t Stop Believin’”!
Want to learn more about CBD, stress, and anxiety? Check out this piece.
If you’re curious to try CBD, we recommend reading “What to Look for in a CBD Product.”