Please use this link to access this publication: https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/revneuro-2023-0078/html
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a debilitating disorder, characterized by fear and anxiety in social situations. Evidence suggests that the levels of SAD are rising, in particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic. Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors and cognitive-behavioral therapy are effective treatments for SAD. Nevertheless, a significant number of patients do not respond well to these therapeutic options. During the last years, Cannabis and cannabinoid-containing products have been investigated for the treatment of different neuropsychiatric disorders. Nevertheless, their efficacy for the treatment of anxiety disorders is still a matter of debate. The purpose of this review was to investigate subjective, behavioral, and neurobiological effects of Cannabis and cannabinoids in social anxiety and SAD. A search in the PubMed database for articles published between the years of 2003–2023 was conducted. One hundred and seventeen (117) original studies were identified. After the exclusion criteria, eighteen (18) studies were selected. The studies investigated the effects of the cannabinoids Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in patients or healthy volunteers submitted to tasks that assessed social anxiety. Results showed that CBD decreases social anxiety, producing an inverted U-shaped curve, with anxiety measurements being reduced at intermediate doses administered orally (300–600 mg), but not at lower or higher doses. THC either reduces (lower doses, 6–7.5 mg) or increases (higher doses) social anxiety measurements. CBD attenuates the anxiogenic effects of THC. The effects of THC and CBD in anxiety are associated to the modulation of fronto-limbic regions. Further clinical trials, conducted with male and female patients and larger cohorts are still necessary to consolidate these results.