PHARMACOTHERAPY OF SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER AT THE TURN OF THE MILLENNIUM
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Over the past 21 years since the birth of SP into the diagnostic nomenclature, there have been significant gains in knowledge about effective pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic treatments. The SSRIs have emerged as the first-line pharmacologic treatment, although good evidence shows efficacy of benzodiazepines; MAOIs; and anticonvulsant agents, such as gabapentin and pregabalin. There is also emerging evidence about the efficacy of the novel antidepressant venlafaxine and also optimism for the potential utility of nefazodone and possibly bupropion. However, there are many areas requiring further investigation. There has been a great deal of excitement about the publication of the RUPP Anxiety Study, demonstrating efficacy for fluvoxamine in socially phobic youth. Given that SP starts in childhood and adolescence, more data are needed to support the use of pharmacotherapy in this age group because early intervention may prevent the sequelae of chronic SP. There needs to be more investigation into what is required for social phobic individuals who obtain a good response to pharmacotherapy to move into full-remission status. Additional research is needed regarding the evaluation of the comparative efficacy of different drug classes and to develop an improved capability of predicting treatment response to a particular type of treatment. In addition, more research is needed regarding treatment resistance. In most of the anxiety disorders that have been studied, combining CBT with psychopharmacologic treatment has shown little advantage over either treatment alone. These findings may be due to methodologic problems. Research is needed on how to sequence treatments to maximize the benefits of combining the two types of effective treatments together. Finally, many clinicians are seeing an emerging trend of individuals who have had untreated SP all of their lives and are now presenting for treatment in their "golden years." The current established treatments need to be evaluated further in this geriatric population.
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