Since coronavirus hit the UK earlier this year, the population have spent the majority of this time confined to their homes, with the occasional outing to the park or the shops. Now we have reached September, the beginning of a new school year and many of us are leaving lockdown to head back to work. At such a complex and fragile time of the year, with a lack of confidence in the government’s handling of the virus, entering back into society can be overwhelming for everyone, but will be especially hard for those who suffer from anxiety or agoraphobia.
What does having anxiety or agoraphobia mean?
The mental health charity ‘Mind’ describes anxiety as “what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.” Although we all feel anxious at times, it becomes a mental health problem when your worries become very hard to control and you find it hard to go about your everyday life. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues and is estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population.
The NHS describes agoraphobia as “a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong.” People with agoraphobia may be scared of leaving their homes, going on public transport or visiting supermarkets and shopping centers. Those who suffer from agoraphobia will often have symptoms of a panic attack when they find themselves in stressful situations and these panic attacks can even be caused by an anticipated situation. Those that suffer with agoraphobia often have a hard time feeling safe in any public place, especially where crowds gather. The fear can be so overwhelming that sufferers may feel unable to leave home.
How lockdown has impacted those suffering from anxiety or agoraphobia
Dave Smithson, operations director at Anxiety UK, states that lockdown has increased stress levels for those enduring health anxieties due to the lack of mental health services available and the axing of face-to-face therapies. He also commented on the easing of lockdown restrictions, stating that almost 67 per cent of their callers that were polled said that “lifting lockdown would increase their fear of using transport, going to public places, going shopping, going to work and attending public events, as well as contracting the virus.”
Psychologist Dr Meg Arroll agrees and also explains that there is a difference between those who are already suffering from agoraphobia and those who have developed health or social anxiety due to the pandemic. There are people who have become worried about leaving home and their safe isolated bubble created during lockdown. Aroll explains this “the type of anxiety that people without pre-existing agoraphobia or a predisposition to this condition are experiencing is more akin to a form of social and/or health anxiety”.
It is clear that there is certainly a fear about returning to a new reality. Here in the UK, lockdown restrictions continue to ease and the government is ramping up pressure on workers to go back to the office. For some of you, this may be a huge relief, but countless others are bound to feel uneasy about getting on public transport and back into an office space after so many months away from their desks.
Even for those who don’t have diagnosable anxiety disorders, it is still entirely normal to feel nervous about adapting to change and also about catching Covid-19 or transmitting it to vulnerable friends or family members. We have endured one of the biggest threats to public health we’ve seen in a generation so it’s totally normal to feel apprehensive. For parents dropping their children off to school for a new term, this may also mean managing their kids anxieties as well as their own. Parents are having to adjust to a new ‘normal’ education system and, although the stress of having children at home whilst working can be extreme, some parents are sceptical about the ability of schools to contain outbreaks.
For those with mental health disorders such as anxiety and agoraphobia, these various stresses relating to Covid-19 can be honestly overwhelming.
Managing anxiety and agoraphobia as lockdown eases
There are many strategies that you can undertake at home to help with anxiety disorders such as meditation, exercise and taking CBD oil. Taking CBD has been shown to help with anxiety and sleep and is now commonly used to address these issues. In 2017, Current Neuropharmacology published ‘Evidences for the Anti-panic Actions of Cannabidiol’ which concluded that CBD seems to be a promising drug for the treatment of panic disorders and that “the studies assessed clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD in both animal models and healthy volunteers.”
If you are interested in trying out CBD to help with anxiety, here are a couple of our favorite brands over at Leafie:
KLORIS CBD are creators of superior grade, broad spectrum, organic CBD oils and balms which have been created under the guidance of leading Cambridge plant scientists. Their products are multi-award winning, with recent winnings including the Hip and Healthy CBD Award 2020. Studies on CBD and anxiety have suggested that people suffering from anxiety induced panic attacks should explore using CBD with no THC. As all KLORIS oils are ethically sourced and contain no THC, they are highly recommended.
Blessed CBD, based in the UK, have a high-quality product range and have some of the most potent CBD oils. Their industrial hemp is originally grown on licenced farms and they only use crops with the highest cannabinoid content possible. Every batch of oil they produce is sent for third party lab testing to ensure quality and all Blessed CBD products derive from hemp cultivated to contain less than 0.2% THC. This is then further purified to ensure that there is no more than 1mg of THC in their products.
There are many recommendations for people dealing with anxiety disorders but it’s important to remember that everyone is different and different coping mechanisms may work better for some than others. Of course, if you’re struggling to cope with your mental health and your anxiety is getting in the way of your day-to-day life, you should always seek professional help. GPs can help offer advice and referrals and there are organisations like the NHS, Mind Charity and Bupa which all have a wealth of advice freely available online, while charities such as CALM have phone lines for people needing urgent support.
CBD has without a doubt helped some consumers with anxiety issues, so whether you’re a regular user or are looking to alleviate some recent anxiety issues, make sure you choose a respected CBD brand that sells organic, high quality products with little or no THC that works for you.