Cochrane Briefs

Is Pharmacotherapy Useful in Social Phobia?


FREE PREVIEW. AAFP members and paid subscribers: Log in to get free access. All others: Purchase online access.


FREE PREVIEW. Purchase online access to read the full version of this article.

Am Fam Physician. 2005 May 1;71(9):1700-1701.

Clinical Question

What are the effects of medications for social phobia?

Evidence-Based Answer

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.

Practice Pointers

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 Stein and colleagues searched for published and unpublished trials of pharmacotherapy for treatment of social phobia.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).

This review supports the view that medications, especially SSRIs, are beneficial for selected patients with social phobia, at least in the short term.1,2

Stein DJ, et al. Pharmacotherapy for social phobia Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(4):CD001206.

REFERENCES

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 afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Information From Industry

More in AFP

More in Pubmed

Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article