Danielle K. Fliegel, Sarah D.Lichenstein
December 22, 2022
The current review evaluates the potential of cannabidiol (CBD) as a promising pharmacotherapy for social anxiety disorder (SAD). Although a number of evidence-based treatments for SAD are available, less than a third of affected individuals experience symptom remission after one year of treatment. Therefore, improved treatment options are urgently needed, and CBD is one candidate medication that may have certain benefits over current pharmacotherapies, including the absence of sedating side effects, reduced abuse liability, and rapid course of action. The current review provides a brief overview of CBD’s mechanisms of action, neuroimaging in SAD, and evidence for CBD’s effects on the neural substrates of SAD, as well as systematically reviewing literature directly examining the efficacy of CBD for improving social anxiety among healthy volunteers and individuals with SAD. In both populations, acute CBD administration significantly decreased anxiety without co-occurring sedation. A single study has also shown chronic administration to decrease social anxiety symptoms in individuals with SAD. Collectively, the current literature suggests CBD may be a promising treatment for SAD. However, further research is needed to establish optimal dosing, assess the timecourse of CBD’s anxiolytic effects, evaluate long-term CBD administration, and explore sex differences in CBD for social anxiety.
Fliegel, D. K., & Lichenstein, S. D. (2022). Systematic literature review of human studies assessing the efficacy of cannabidiol for social anxiety. Psychiatry Research Communications, 100074.