Human study



Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2022;83(5):21m14130

Article name

Cannabidiol for Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorders in Young People: An Open-Label Trial


Maximus Berger, MD, PhD; Emily Li, BPsychPsy; Simon Rice, PhD; Christopher G. Davey, MBBS, PhD; Aswin Ratheesh, MBBS, PhD; Sophie Adams, MBBS, PhD; Henry Jackson, PhDd; Sarah Hetrick, PhD; Alexandra Parker, PhD; Tim Spelman, PhDf; Richard Kevin, PhD, Iain S. McGregor, PhD, Patrick McGorry, MBBS, PhD and G. Paul Amminger, MD, PhD

CBD for Treatment-Resistant Anxiety in Young People

This study, conducted by Maximus Berger and colleagues, is a human trial investigating the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) for treating anxiety disorders in young people who have not responded to standard treatments. The authors are associated with various institutions, including the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney.

Key Findings

  • CBD can reduce anxiety severity in young people with treatment-resistant anxiety disorders.
  • Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS) scores decreased significantly after 12 weeks of CBD treatment.
  • Depressive symptoms, Clinical Global Impressions scale scores, and functioning also improved significantly.
  • Adverse events were reported in 80.6% of participants, including fatigue, low mood, and hot flushes or cold chills. However, there were no serious or unexpected adverse events.

Diving into the Methodology

The study was an open-label trial involving 31 young people aged 12–25 years with a DSM-5 anxiety disorder. These participants had not shown clinical improvement despite treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or antidepressant medication. The trial ran from May 16, 2018, to June 28, 2019. All participants received add-on CBD for 12 weeks on a fixed-flexible schedule titrated up to 800 mg/d. The primary outcome was improvement in anxiety severity, measured with the Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS), at week 12. Secondary outcomes included comorbid depressive symptoms, Clinical Global Impressions scale score, and social and occupational functioning.

Implications of the Study

The study suggests that CBD could potentially be used as a new treatment for young people with treatment-resistant anxiety disorders. This could be particularly beneficial given the relative lack of efficacy of current treatments for these disorders.

What are the limitations of this study?

As an open-label trial, the study does not include a control group, which could potentially introduce bias. Furthermore, the authors note that randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm the efficacy and longer-term safety of CBD.

Concluding Thoughts

This trial provides promising evidence that CBD can reduce anxiety severity in young people with treatment-resistant anxiety disorders. While the findings are promising, more research is needed to fully understand the efficacy and safety of CBD in this context.

For more details, you can read the full study here.


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