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Recent Developments is Social Phobia Research

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Purpose of Review: This review covers three themes of research that brought fresh data useful for clinical practice in a handicapping anxiety disorder: social phobia. Recent findings deriving from basic biological research, new forms of psychological therapies, and recent psychopharmacology controlled trials are reviewed.

Recent Findings: The basic neuroimaging research suggests that greater activation of the amygdala to novel versus familiar faces may be an underlying trait marker for social phobia. Social phobia may represent a phenotype that expresses a genetically driven trait of social withdrawal, which may be related to infantile inhibited temperament (Kagan's syndrome). The development of virtual reality therapy as therapeutic tool for social phobia appeared promising in one controlled, but not randomized, study. A controlled study suggests that social phobias in children can be effectively treated with cognitive behavioural therapy. This represents an extension of the work done with adults. Venlafaxine appears an effective short-term treatment for social anxiety disorder in two controlled studies. A new compound, pregabalin, appeared clearly effective in a positive controlled study. This trial marks the advent of a new pharmacological lineage for social phobia. Both venlafaxine and pregabalin, however, have been studied in short-term studies. Longer follow-up and relapse prevention studies are warranted.

Summary: Neuroimaging research points to a temperamental basis for social phobia. Virtual reality therapy is an emerging tool to carry out exposure treatment. Group cognitive behavioural therapy can be extended successfully to children. Venlafaxine and pregabalin have a proven short-term effectiveness in social phobia.

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VR therapy! Wicked!

Edited by Velvet Elvis
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Some more studies on Pregabalin for social phobia/ anxiety, using xanax as a control.

(bolds added by me, the titles of the studes should link you to the articles at PubMed)

Pregabalin for treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: a 4-week, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of pregabalin and alprazolam.

BACKGROUND: Pregabalin inhibits release of excess excitatory neurotransmitters, presumably by binding to the alpha2-delta subunit protein of widely distributed voltage-dependent calcium channels in the brain and spinal cord. OBJECTIVE: To assess the anxiolytic efficacy of pregabalin in patients with generalized anxiety disorder. DESIGN: Double-blind, placebo-controlled, active-comparator trial. Patients were randomized to 4 weeks of treatment with pregabalin, 300 mg/d (n = 91), 450 mg/d (n = 90), or 600 mg/d (n = 89); alprazolam, 1.5 mg/d (n = 93); or placebo (n = 91). SETTING: Psychiatry research and clinic settings. PATIENTS: Outpatients meeting the DSM-IV criteria for generalized anxiety disorder, with a baseline Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A) total score of 20 or greater. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Change from baseline to end point in total HAM-A score in the pregabalin and alprazolam groups compared with the placebo group. The end point response criterion was 50% or greater reduction in the HAM-A total score. RESULTS: Pregabalin and alprazolam produced a significantly greater reduction in mean +/- SE HAM-A total score at last-observation-carried-forward end point compared with placebo (-8.4 +/- 0.8): pregabalin, 300 mg (-12.2 +/- 0.8, P<.001), 450 mg (-11.0 +/- 0.8, P = .02), and 600 mg (-11.8 +/- 0.8, P = .002), and alprazolam (-10.9 +/- 0.8, P = .02). By week 1 and at last-observation-carried-forward end point, the 3 pregabalin groups and the alprazolam group had significantly (P<.01) improved HAM-A psychic anxiety symptoms compared with the placebo group. Compared with the placebo group, HAM-A somatic anxiety symptoms were also significantly (P<.02) improved by the 300- and 600-mg pregabalin groups, but not by the 450-mg pregabalin (week 1, P = .06; week 4, P = .32) and the alprazolam groups (week 1, P = .21; week 4, P = .15). Of the 5 treatment groups, the 300-mg pregabalin group was the only medication group that differed statistically in global improvement at treatment end point not only from the placebo group but also from the alprazolam group. CONCLUSION: Pregabalin was significantly more efficacious than placebo for the treatment of psychic and somatic symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and was well tolerated by most study patients.

A double-blind, placebo- and positive-internal-controlled (alprazolam) investigation of the cognitive and psychomotor profile of pregabalin in healthy volunteers.

RATIONALE: Pregabalin potently and selectively binds to the alpha(2)-delta subunit of voltage-dependent calcium channels, reducing calcium influx and modulating release of downstream excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate. Pregabalin has demonstrated robust efficacy for several disease states, but its neuropharmacology is still being elucidated. OBJECTIVE: This study was conducted to evaluate the cognitive and psychomotor effects of oral pregabalin (150 mg t.i.d.) using alprazolam (1 mg t.i.d.) as a positive internal control and placebo. METHODS: Twenty-four healthy volunteers were randomised to a double-blind, three-way crossover study. Each period consisted of 3-day double-blind treatment followed by 1 day of single-blind placebo. Psychometrics included tests of Choice Reaction Time (CRT), CNS arousal (Critical Flicker Fusion, CFF), vigilance (Rapid Visual Information Processing, RVIP), serial memory scanning (Sternberg Short-Term Memory Scanning Test, STM), divided attention (Compensatory Tracking Task, CTT), Brake Reaction Time (BRT) in an on-the-road vehicle, and subjective Line Analogue Rating Scales (LARS) for sedation. RESULTS: Pregabalin showed no significant effects on the objective psychometrics-CRT, BRT, RVIP, STM-compared with placebo. Pregabalin produced a limited, significant decrement on CFF and CTT and a significant effect on the LARS. Pregabalin was associated with improvement relative to placebo in BRT. The positive control, alprazolam, produced significant impairment on all objective measures and significant impairment on the LARS, thus establishing the sensitivity of the test battery used in the study. CONCLUSIONS: Pregabalin did not differ on most assessments from placebo, producing only minor, transient impairment on some objective cognitive and psychomotor measures, suggesting a relatively benign CNS side-effect profile.
Edited by Penny Century
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