May 17, 2021

Hello, colleagues,

The National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC) provides information about relevant and current research in service of disseminating and promoting evidence-based treatment. This month’s summary is written by Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C, NSAC Baltimore (CBT Baltimore). The article, Anxiolytic Effects of Repeated Cannabidiol Treatment in Teenagers with Social Anxiety Disorders, focuses on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in the treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD).

Several studies have explored the clinical benefits of the Cannabis sativa plant for various psychiatric disorders. In 2019, Nobuo Masataka conducted a study in Japan with thirty-seven 18 to 19-year-old adolescents who met criteria for SAD. During this double-blind study, 17 of the teenagers received a daily dose of 300 mg of CBD oil which is the non-psychotomimetic and nonaddictive main component of the Cannabis sativa plant. The doses did not contain THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces a high sensation. The control group received a placebo dose of olive oil for the duration of the study.

The Fear of Negative Evaluation Questionnaire and the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale were utilized as pre-study and post-study assessment tools. Results showed those who received the CBD oil had a significant reduction in their SAD symptomology as reflected by these clinical tools. These results highlight the potential benefits of CBD an additional treatment option for those struggling with SAD. Limitations of the study included lack of blood samples to assess levels of CBD, only capturing data at two time points, small sample size, and lack of systematic evaluation of side-effects. This study reinforces the need for additional research on the clinical applications of CBD.

Have you had clients who raised the question of utilizing CBD to treat their anxiety? To what extent has CBD been relied on by socially anxious persons as a safety behavior that may inhibit their learning and progress, like other safety behaviors?

Masataka Nobuo. Anxiolytic Effects of Repeated Cannabidiol Treatment in teenagers with Social Anxiety Disorders. Frontiers in Psychology, November 8, 2019.

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C, A-CBT
NSAC Baltimore (CBT Baltimore)
Diplomate, Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies