Is Pharmacotherapy Useful in Social Phobia?
Am Fam Physician. 2005 May 1;71(9):1700-1701.
What are the effects of medications for social phobia?
In adults, medications may improve the symptoms of social phobia in the short term, but their usefulness may be overstated because of publication bias. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have the strongest evidence of efficacy and the most favorable side-effect profile.
Social phobia affects about 5.3 million Americans. Persons with social phobia fear and avoid social situations or doing things in front of others. It may be limited to certain situations such as public speaking, or it can be generalized. Some persons have such severe fear that they are unable to work or leave their homes. Stein and colleagues searched for published and unpublished trials of pharmacotherapy for treatment of social phobia.
A total of 36 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with 4,268 patients were found. Most of the RCTs followed patients for less than 14 weeks, and 17 of the studies reviewed SSRIs. A variety of other medications were studied, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), reversible inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A, benzodiazepines, buspirone, beta blockers, and gabapentin. Because of the wide variation in study design, it is difficult to make specific therapeutic recommendations.
In general, treated patients were more likely to respond than patients who received placebo. The relative risk of nonresponse for treated patients was 0.63 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.55 to 0.72). Average symptom scores were better in patients who took SSRIs and MAOIs. However, funnel-plot analysis of treatment response suggests possible publication bias (i.e., small studies finding little or no benefit may not have been published).
Stein DJ, et al. Pharmacotherapy for social phobia Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(4):CD001206.
1. Van Ameringen M, Allgulander C, Bandelow B, Greist JH, Hollander E, Montgomery SA, et al. WCA recommendations for the long-term treatment of social phobia. CNS Spectr. 2003;8(8 suppl 1):40–52.
2. Ballenger JC, Davidson JR, Lecrubier Y, Nutt DJ, Bobes J, Beidel DC, et al. Consensus statement on social anxiety disorder from the International Consensus Group on Depression and Anxiety. J Clin Psychiatry. 1998;59(suppl 17):54–60.
Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions