Effective Cannabidiol for Young People with Treatment-Resistant Anxiety

Summary: Cannabidiol treatment reduced the severity of anxiety by an average of 42.6% in young adults with treatment-resistant anxiety, a new study reports.

Source: Orygene

Cannabidiol can be effective in halving the severity of symptoms and disorders caused by chronic anxiety, a pilot study by Orygen, Australia’s center of excellence in youth mental health, has shown.

The Cannabidiol Youth Anxiety pilot study found that young people with treatment-resistant anxiety had an average reduction of 42.6% in the severity of anxiety and impairment after 12 weeks of treatment with cannabidiol, a component non-intoxicant from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is often referred to as CBD.

Professor Paul Amminger of Orygen, who led the study, said this level of improvement was remarkable.

“Young people had fewer panic attacks and could do things they were previously unable to do, such as leaving home, going to school, participating in social situations, eating out, taking public transportation or go on dates alone,” Professor Amminger said. .

“It’s an incredible change in the group that had been suffering from severe to very severe treatment-resistant anxiety for a long time.”

Symptom reduction was observed on two different scales: a clinician-rated scale (Hamilton Anxiety Rating, 50.7%) and a self-rated scale (Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale, 42.6%). ), which involved participants completing a questionnaire. on symptoms such as panic attacks, situational anxieties, worries and flashbacks.

Study co-investigator and executive director of Orygen, Professor Patrick McGorry, said the results were promising for a significant number of young people, with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on July 22 showing that anxiety was the most common form of poor mental health in young people. , affecting almost a third (31.5%) of people aged 16-24, nearly double the rate in the general population.

“We see that more and more young people are suffering from anxiety. It is a rapidly growing form of poor mental health in young people and we urgently need innovation in treatment. Cannabidiol is a promising treatment option that appears to be safe and effective. We need further research to confirm this and explore its value,” Professor McGorry said.

The pilot study involved 31 participants aged 12 to 25 recruited from Orygen’s primary care services. Participants had a diagnosed anxiety disorder and did not show significant improvement in anxiety severity after at least five sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

“The problem with current first-line treatments for anxiety – CBT and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants – is that they only work in about half of the people who try them,” said Professor Amminger.

“Anxiety disorders are very common, leaving a large number of young people untreated, struggling with symptoms and developing secondary conditions, such as depression and substance use disorders.”

Orygen began exploring cannabidiol as a treatment for anxiety after it was shown to be effective in reducing anxiety in adults.

In Australia, cannabidiol has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration as a treatment for children with rare forms of epilepsy (Dravet syndrome and Lennox Gastaut syndrome). Cannabidiol has been approved for clinical trials as a treatment for children in Australia with Tourette syndrome, fragile X syndrome, autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability.

“It is important to emphasize that cannabidiol does not induce any significant side effects or lead to the emergence of neurological or psychiatric manifestations,” Professor Amminger said.

“Cannabidiol is not intoxicating and does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so it does not cause alterations in thinking and perception, it does not get you high or is addictive. In fact, cannabidiol has been used to treat addictive behaviors in other research trials and may reduce some of the adverse and intoxicating effects of THC.

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Orygen began exploring cannabidiol as a treatment for anxiety after it was shown to be effective in reducing anxiety in adults. Image is in public domain

The starting dose for participants in the pilot study was one 200 mg cannabidiol capsule daily, which was increased to 400 mg after one week. Those who did not show significant improvement in anxiety symptoms had their dose increased in 200mg increments up to 800mg per day. All participants received bi-weekly CBT for 12 weeks (five sessions).

“Our pilot study found that cannabidiol not only helped reduce symptoms of anxiety, but was also very well tolerated – the most common side effects were mild sedation and mild fatigue, but this was at the when doses were increased and usually subsided after a few days,” Prof Amminger said.

“We did not observe any side effects such as suicidal thoughts, irritability or sleep problems, which are not uncommon in people taking SSRIs.”

Although the results are promising, more research is needed.

“An open-label pilot study is limited by its design. Seeing a treatment effect in the treatment resistant group is encouraging, but it could still be a placebo effect. The next step is a randomized controlled trial, which is the gold standard for testing a new intervention.

“Such a trial needs to be done in a much larger group – around 200 to 250 young people – to allow us to say with some certainty whether or not there are real benefits and effects of treatment,” Prof Amminger said.

About this psychopharmacology research news

Author: Press office
Source: Orygene
Contact: Press office – Orygen
Image: Image is in public domain

Original research: The findings will appear in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

About Antoine L. Cassell

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