What is it about?

A Japanese study group clarified that cognitive therapy maintained its effects more than a year after the end of therapy for patients with a social anxiety disorder (SAD) even for those who did not respond to antidepressant drugs.

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Why is it important?

Although antidepressants are an effective treatment commonly used for SAD, some patients fail to remit following these drugs. However, no standard approach has been established for treating such patients. In 2016, Yoshinaga and Shimizu's study group conducted a clinical trial and reported short-term effectiveness of cognitive therapy for patients with SAD who were refractory to antidepressants (Yoshinaga et al., 2016 [10.1159/000444221]). However, it was still unknown whether the patients could maintain cognitive therapy's effect in the long run.

Perspectives

Findings of this study will contribute to updating treatment guidelines for SAD, especially for managing people who have been ineffectively treated with antidepressants. However, patient access to cognitive therapy/cognitive behavioral therapy is still limited in many countries, so more work is needed to solve this issue. Our Japanese research group is currently working with Prof. David Clark and Dr. Graham Thew from the University of Oxford to develop a Japanese version of an internet-based cognitive therapy program for social anxiety disorder that has shown high efficacy in both the UK and Hong Kong. The aim of this work is to make progress towards the effective global dissemination of this treatment. Although the current study demonstrated the long-term effectiveness of cognitive therapy for SAD, some patients still remained symptomatic despite receiving cognitive therapy. To manage such patients, establishing other effective pharmacological or psychological approaches is also needed.

Dr Naoki Yoshinaga
University of Miyazaki

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This page is a summary of: Long-Term Effectiveness of Cognitive Therapy for Refractory Social Anxiety Disorder: One-Year Follow-Up of a Randomized Controlled Trial, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, May 2019, Karger Publishers, DOI: 10.1159/000500108.
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