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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2013 Feb;16(1):235-49. doi: 10.1017/S1461145712000119. Epub 2012 Mar 21.

The evidence-based pharmacotherapy of social anxiety disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry of Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a highly prevalent and often disabling disorder. This paper reviews the pharmacological treatment of SAD based on published placebo-controlled studies and published meta-analyses. It addresses three specific questions: What is the first-line pharmacological treatment of SAD? How long should treatment last? What should be the management of treatment-resistant cases? Based on their efficacy for SAD and common co-morbid disorders, tolerability and safety, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and venlafaxine should be considered the first-line treatment for most patients. Less information is available regarding the optimal length of treatment, although individuals who discontinue treatment after 12-20 wk appear more likely to relapse than those who continue on medication. Even less empirical evidence is available to support strategies for treatment-resistant cases. Clinical experience suggests that SSRI non-responders may benefit from augmentation with benzodiazepines or gabapentin or from switching to monoamine oxidase inhibitors, reversible inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A, benzodiazepines or gabapentin. Cognitive-behavioural is a well-established alternative first line therapy that may also be a helpful adjunct in non-responders to pharmacological treatment of SAD.

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