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Social Anxiety

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 15, 2011


For many mental conditions, treatment options include medications or psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.


Despite the frequently comparable benefits of either of the modalities, and the often documented adjunctive benefit of using both approaches at the same time, researchers currently have a better understanding of how medications affect the neurological function of the brain.


To balance this representation, a new study looked at how psychotherapy alters the brain in patients suffering from social anxiety disorder. A team of Canadian psychological scientists set out to discover how the brain changes when psychotherapy is helping someone recover — in this case from social anxiety disorder.


Medication and psychotherapy both help people with this common disorder, marked by overwhelming fears of interacting with others and expectations of being harshly judged. But research on the neurological effects of psychotherapy has lagged far behind that on medication-induced changes in the brain.


“We wanted to track the brain changes while people were going through psychotherapy,” said McMaster University Ph.D. candidate Vladimir Miskovic, the study’s lead author.


To do so, the research team used electroencephalograms, or EEGs, which measure brain electrical interactions in real time. They focused on the amount of “delta-beta coupling,” which elevates with rising anxiety.


The study recruited 25 adults with social anxiety disorder from a Hamilton, Ontario clinic. The patients participated in 12 weekly sessions of group cognitive behavior therapy, a structured method that helps people identify—and challenge—the thinking patterns that perpetuate their painful and self-destructive behaviors.


Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/02/15/therapy-helps-mend-brain-in-social-anxiety-disorder/23515.html



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