Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is one of the most common anxiety conditions with impairment in social life. Cannabidiol (CBD), one major non-psychotomimetic compound of the cannabis sativa plant, has shown anxiolytic effects both in humans and in animals. This preliminary study aimed to compare the effects of a simulation public speaking test (SPST) on healthy control (HC) patients and treatment-naïve SAD patients who received a single dose of CBD or placebo. A total of 24 never-treated patients with SAD were allocated to receive either CBD (600 mg; n=12) or placebo (placebo; n=12) in a double-blind randomized design 1 h and a half before the test. The same number of HC (n=12) performed the SPST without receiving any medication. Each volunteer participated in only one experimental session in a double-blind procedure. Subjective ratings on the Visual Analogue Mood Scale (VAMS) and Negative Self-Statement scale (SSPS-N) and physiological measures (blood pressure, heart rate, and skin conductance) were measured at six different time points during the SPST. The results were submitted to a repeated-measures analysis of variance. Pretreatment with CBD significantly reduced anxiety, cognitive impairment and discomfort in their speech performance, and significantly decreased alert in their anticipatory speech. The placebo group presented higher anxiety, cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert levels when compared with the control group as assessed with the VAMS. The SSPS-N scores evidenced significant increases during the testing of placebo group that was almost abolished in the CBD group. No significant differences were observed between CBD and HC in SSPS-N scores or in the cognitive impairment, discomfort, and alert factors of VAMS. The increase in anxiety induced by the SPST on subjects with SAD was reduced with the use of CBD, resulting in a similar response as the HC.
1Department of Neuroscience and Behavior, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, SP, Brazil.