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Cannabinoid regulation of fear and anxiety: an update

Papagianni, Eleni P.; Stevenson, Carl W.

Cannabinoid regulation of fear and anxiety: an update Thumbnail


Eleni P. Papagianni


Purpose of Review
Anxiety- and trauma-related disorders are prevalent and debilitating mental illnesses associated with a significant socioeconomic burden. Current treatment approaches often have inadequate therapeutic responses, leading to symptom relapse. Here we review recent preclinical and clinical findings on the potential of cannabinoids as novel therapeutics for regulating fear and anxiety.

Recent Findings
Evidence from preclinical studies has shown that the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol and the endocannabinoid anandamide have acute anxiolytic effects and also regulate learned fear by dampening its expression, enhancing its extinction and disrupting its reconsolidation. The findings from the relevant clinical literature are still very preliminary but are nonetheless encouraging.

Based on this preclinical evidence, larger-scale placebo-controlled clinical studies are warranted to investigate the effects of cannabidiol in particular as an adjunct to psychological therapy or medication to determine its potential utility for treating anxiety-related disorders in the future.


Papagianni, E. P., & Stevenson, C. W. (2019). Cannabinoid regulation of fear and anxiety: an update. Current Psychiatry Reports, 21(6), 1-10.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 26, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 27, 2019
Publication Date Jun 1, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 5, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 1, 2019
Journal Current Psychiatry Reports
Print ISSN 1523-3812
Electronic ISSN 1535-1645
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 6
Article Number 38
Pages 1-10
Keywords cannabidiol; consolidation; endocannabinoid; extinction; fear conditioning; reconsolidation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information First Online: 27 April 2019; : ; : Eleni P. Papagianni’s PhD studentship was funded in part by Artelo Biosciences, a biopharmaceutical company with interests in the development and commercialization of cannabinoid-based medicines. Artelo Biosciences had no involvement in any aspect of this review.Carl W. Stevenson declares no potential conflict of interest.; : All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).


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