Study evaluates effectiveness of psychotherapy in SAD patients who fail to respond to antidepressants

A randomized controlled study has evaluated the role of psychotherapy in patients whose social anxiety did not respond to drug treatment. Although antidepressants are still a commonly used treatment for social anxiety disorder (SAD), a significant proportion of patients fail to remit following antidepressants. However, no standard approach has been established for managing such patients. This study by Yoshinaga et al. aimed to examine the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as an adjunct to usual care (UC) compared with UC alone in SAD patients who remain symptomatic following antidepressant treatment.

This prospective randomized open-blinded end-point study with two parallel groups (CBT + UC, and UC alone, both for 16 weeks) was conducted from June 2012 to March 2014. SAD patients who remain symptomatic following antidepressant treatment were recruited, and a total sample size of 42 was set based on pilot results. Patients were randomly allocated to CBT + UC (n = 21) or UC alone (n = 21). After 16 weeks, adjusted mean reduction in the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale from baseline for CBT + UC and UC alone was −40.87 and 0.68, respectively; the between-group difference was −41.55 (−53.68 to −29.42, p < 0.0001).

Response rates were 85.7 and 10.0% for CBT + UC and UC alone, respectively (p < 0.0001). The corresponding remission rates were 47.6 and 0.0%, respectively (p = 0.0005). Significant differences were also found in favor of CBT + UC for social anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, and functional impairment. These results suggest that in SAD patients who have been ineffectively treated with antidepressants, CBT is an effective treatment adjunct to UC over 16 weeks in reducing social anxiety and related symptoms.


Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics


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