Research Shows Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is Top Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

November 26, 2012


Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder has often been termed the disease of the century, simply because feelings of social inadequacy and a failure to respond ‘appropriately’ to social context, for whatever that appropriateness may be, seem to characterize many these days. Luckily, however, the 21st century has also brought along comparatively more elevated levels of tolerance and prevalence of psychotherapy. It seems that people who are seeking professional help for their behavioral, cognitive, and affective issues are increasing in number from one day to the next. As such, an ever larger part of both the global, as well as the American population, is effectively doing something to wipe out the stigma that has been traditionally linked with going to therapy. What is more, the medical community itself is also trying to investigate all the possible aspects associated with specific conditions, to understand them both from a neurological, as well as a therapeutic standpoint, and to provide those afflicted with the best available treatments. Two recent studies concerning social anxiety disorder, for instance, prove that the world as a whole may yet have lots to learn when it comes to treating the syndrome.

The first such study was published in early September of this year, by a team of researchers at prestigious MIT. The neuroscientists there scanned the brains of several patients currently being treated for social anxiety disorder, and revealed that different types of treatment impacted the patients’ neural activity levels in different ways. What is more, the research also pinpointed several indicators that might come to accurately foretell how effective a particular type of therapy will be in treating social anxiety disorder for one given individual. The disorder is said to be currently affecting some 15 million people in the U.S. alone. The study, completed by scientists from MIT, the Massachusetts General Hospital, and Boston University, was recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The relevance of the study goes far beyond numbers. By using magnetic resonance brain activity level marking techniques, the scientists believe they have been able to accurately identify types of treatment that pay off and are literally more efficient for various individuals. What they did find, for instance, through a test that asked participants to accurately label the emotions displayed by several people in pictures, was that people who had undergone at least twelve weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy showed substantial improvement in this area – they had improved the most out of all the test subjects. Consequently, the study indicates that this particular type of therapy is perhaps the most efficient currently available tool for treating social anxiety disorder. This is the same sort of therapy that has been used successful to treat excessive blushing alongside social anxiety –

This study actually built on a previous one, released in late of June of 2012, which had also acknowledged the effectiveness of treating social anxiety disorder through cognitive behavioral therapy. That study also highlighted the fact that cognitive behavioral techniques work best when used together with the ‘transdiagnostic’ approach to treatment. Transdiagnosis entails using the same set of principles across the entire spectrum of anxiety disorders. The study research team was led by doctor Peter Norton, the clinical psychology associate professor in charge of the Anxiety Disorder Clinic with the University of Houston.

This initial study lasted for an entire decade, during which test subjects were administered four distinct clinical trials. It looked at the whole range of disorders on the anxiety spectrum, from OCD and PTSD, to several phobias, generalized anxiety and panic. The conclusion? While the DSM has greatly improved the perception of the medical community and the general public on the various types of disorders and syndromes that anxiety causes, when it comes to treatment, getting specific with an illness on the anxiety spectrum will not yield far better results than a generalized type of treatment.

Research Shows Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Is Top Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

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Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety


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