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Keywords:

  • sertraline;
  • serotonin reuptake inhibitors;
  • phobic disorders;
  • randomized controlled trial;
  • social anxiety disorder;
  • blushing;
  • hyperhidrosis

Abstract

Clinical trials of social anxiety disorder (SAD) have largely focused on the effect of treatment on symptoms of fear and avoidance, while neglecting the third clinically relevant dimension, physiological arousal. Data were combined from two previously reported placebo-controlled trials of sertraline in the treatment of moderate-to-severe generalized SAD. Efficacy was evaluated using the Brief Social Phobia Scale (BSPS). Three hundred forty-six subjects were randomized to 12–13 weeks of treatment with sertraline and 273 subjects to placebo. Following treatment, significant improvement was noted in favor of sertraline on the full BSPS (P<.001), as well as on each of the individual BSPS subscales: fear (P=.001); avoidance (P<.0001); and physiological arousal (P<.0001). Of the physiological symptoms assessed, the treatment advantage with sertraline was maintained for blushing (P<.003) and palpitations (P<.03), but not for trembling and sweating. These results confirm the efficacy of treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), sertraline, across the spectrum of fear, avoidance, and physiological arousal in generalized SAD (GSAD). Among common physiological symptoms in this population, blushing and palpitations appear more treatment responsive than trembling and sweating to acute treatment with sertraline. Depression and Anxiety 23:6–10, 2006. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.