Internet Mental Health

SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER (SOCIAL PHOBIA)






Internet Mental Health Quality of Life Scale

Big 5 Factors Of Mental Illness And Code For This Disorder
(The "6th Big Factor" of Mental Health, "Physical Health", Is Coded Normal or Green)

  • Avoidance of social situations because of a phobic fear of embarrassment or fear of being rejected by others.

  • Lasted for at least 6 months.

  • Social phobic situations are actively avoided or endured with intense anxiety or fear.

  • Social phobia causes significant impairment or distress.

  • Not due to a medical or substance use disorder.

Prediction

    Onset usually occurs in childhood or adolescence, but may occur in adulthood following severe embarrassment (e.g., due to tremor, incontinence, or memory loss caused by medical condition). Within one year usually 30% recover, and within a few years 50% recover.

Problems

Occupational-Economic Problems:

  • Significant impairment in academic, occupational and/or social functioning.

  • Underachievement or dropping out at school or work because of fear of public speaking, test taking, or authority figures.

  • Elevated rates of school dropout.

  • Decreased employment, workplace productivity, socioeconomic status, well-being, quality of life, and leisure activities.

  • Only about half ever seek treatment, and usually only after 15-20 years of experiencing symptoms.

Reserved, Quiet (Detachment):

  • Often have few friends.

  • Elevated rates of being single, unmarried, or divorced and with not having children.

Anxious/Depressed, Emotionally Unstable (Negative Emotion):

  • Has unreasonable fear of embarrassment or social anxiety

  • Exposure to the feared social situation always provoked strong anxiety

  • Recognized that this fear of embarrassment or social anxiety was excessive or unreasonable

  • Feared social situations were avoided or endured with intense anxiety

  • Fear of embarrassment or social anxiety occurred in most social situations

  • Fear of embarrassment or social anxiety caused clinically significant disability or distress



Explanation Of Terms And Symbols

Internet Mental Health Quality of Life Scale


Fear, Generalized Anxiety, Phobia, Panic, Obsession, and Compulsion

Fearful avoidance is part of our instinctual "flight" response to adversity.

Our ancestors learned to fear dangerous things (e.g., snakes), and this harm avoidance saved their lives.

However, fear can spiral out of control. For example, an individual can develop a phobia to snakes in which the fear becomes excessive. The individual may then panic if exposed to snakes. This phobia can develop into an obsession in which the individual spends much of the time thinking about snakes, and how to avoid them. The obsession can develop into a compulsion in which the individual spends much of the time doing superstitious, compulsive, ritual behaviors aimed at avoiding snakes.

There are stages in the escalation of fear:

  • Normal Fear:
    Fear is normal if it is in proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object or situation, and this fear doesn't cause significant distress or disability.

  • Generalized Anxiety:
    Fear can become excessive, and generalized with excessive anxiety and worry about a number of objects or situations. This anxiety is often associated with avoidance of the feared objects or situations and irritability. The anxiety in social anxiety disorder focuses on the generalized fear of negative social evaluation.

  • Phobia:
    Fear can become excessive, and specifically attached to specific objects or situations (e.g., fear of snakes). This phobic fear is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by these feared objects or situations, and the individual desperately tries to avoid whatever triggers the phobia. This phobic fear causes significant distress or disability. In social anxiety disorder, the individual develops a social phobia about being embarrassed, humiliated, or rejected in a social situation. Thus the individual actively avoids all social situations which run the risk of such negative evaluation.

  • Panic:
    Phobic individuals can develop a full-blown panic attack if exposed to whatever triggers their phobia. Individuals with social anxiety disorder may have panic attacks triggered by fear of negative evaluation.

  • Obsession:
    If the individual develops persistent, unwanted thoughts about the phobia; this is defined as an obsession. An obsession is an unwanted, recurrent, persistent, fear-provoking intrusive thought. Individuals with social anxiety disorder usually don't develop obsessions.

  • Compulsion:
    A compulsion is a ritual an individual develops to combat an obsession. Thus compulsions are fear-relieving avoidance behaviors. The individual feels driven to perform these compulsions. Individuals with social anxiety disorder usually don't develop compulsions.

Back to top


Click Here For Free Diagnosis

Limitations of Self-Diagnosis

Self-diagnosis of this disorder is often inaccurate. Accurate diagnosis of this disorder requires assessment by a qualified practitioner trained in psychiatric diagnosis and evidence-based treatment.

However, if no such professional is available, our free computerized diagnosis is usually accurate when completed by an informant who knows the patient well. Computerized diagnosis is less accurate when done by patients (because they often lack insight).

Example Of Our Computer Generated Diagnostic Assessment

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) 300.23

This diagnosis is based on the following findings:
  • Had unreasonable fear of embarrassment or social anxiety
  • Exposure to the feared social situation always provoked strong anxiety
  • Recognized that this fear of embarrassment or social anxiety was excessive or unreasonable
  • Feared social situations were avoided or endured with intense anxiety
  • Fear of embarrassment or social anxiety occurred in most social situations
  • Fear of embarrassment or social anxiety caused clinically significant disability or distress
  • Fear of embarrassment or social anxiety was not due to another mental disorder
  • Fear of embarrassment or social anxiety was not due to substance use or other treatment
  • Fear of embarrassment or social anxiety was not due to a general medical condition

TREATMENT GOALS:

  • Goal: prevent unreasonable fear of embarrassment or social anxiety.

  • Goal: prevent strong anxiety when exposed to the feared social situation.

  • Goal: prevent avoidance of feared social situations (or endurance of them with intense anxiety).


Back to top


Social Phobias F40.1 - ICD10 Description, World Health Organization

Fear of scrutiny by other people leading to avoidance of social situations. More pervasive social phobias are usually associated with low self-esteem and fear of criticism. They may present as a complaint of blushing, hand tremor, nausea, or urgency of micturition, the patient sometimes being convinced that one of these secondary manifestations of their anxiety is the primary problem. Symptoms may progress to panic attacks.
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) - Diagnostic Criteria, American Psychiatric Association

An individual diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (social phobia) needs to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions (e.g., having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people), being observed (e.g., eating or drinking), and performing in front of others (e.g., giving a speech). Note: In children, the anxiety must occur in peer settings and not just during interactions with adults.

  • The individual fears that he or she will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated (i.e., will be humiliating or embarrassing; will lead to rejection or offend others).

  • The social situations almost always provoke fear or anxiety. Note: In children, the fear or anxiety may be experienced by crying, tantrums, freezing, clinging, shrinking, or failing to speak in social situations.

  • The social situations are avoided or endured with intense fear or anxiety.

  • The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social situation and to the sociocultural context.

  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting for 6 months or more.

  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functiioning.

  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition.

  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder, such as panic disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, or autism spectrum disorder.

  • If another medical condition (e.g., Parkinson's disease, obesity, disfigurement from burns or injury) is present, the fear, anxiety, or avoidance is clarly unrelated or is excessive.


Back to top


Diagnostic Features

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) is a condition characterized by a marked and persistent fear of situations in which the individual is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears being humiliated or embarrassed, which leads to avoidance of social situations. Blushing is a hallmark physical response of social anxiety disorder. The individual recognizes that this fear is excessive or unreasonable. The feared social or performance situations are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety or distress. Social phobia is usually associated with low self-esteem and fear of criticism. This disorder may present with complaints of blushing, hand tremor, nausea, or urgency of micturition. Symptoms may progress to panic attacks. Symptoms must have persisted for at least 6 months before is disorder is diagnosed. This diagnosis should not be given if the fear is reasonable given the context of the stimuli (e.g., fear of being called on in class when unprepared). The disturbance must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. This disorder is not due to a medical condition, medication, or abused substance. It is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Panic Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or Autism Spectrum Disorder). Often individuals with this disorder may develop substance abuse or depression.

Warning: Self-diagnosis of this disorder is often inaccurate. Accurate diagnosis of this disorder requires assessment by a qualified practitioner trained in psychiatric diagnosis and evidence-based treatment. However, if no such professional is available, our free computerized diagnosis is usually accurate when completed by an informant who knows the patient well. Computerized diagnosis is less accurate when done by patients (because they often lack insight).

Typical Fears

  • Social Interactions Scare The Individual:
    • Parties and social events
    • Talking to strangers
    • Talking to people in authority
    • Being criticized
    • Having heart palpitations when around people
  • Is Embarrassed By:
    • Blushing in front of people
    • Sweating in front of people
    • Doing things when people might be watching
    • Trembling or shaking in front of others
  • Fears Performing In Front Of Others:
    • Avoids being the centre of attention
    • Avoids giving speeches
    • Fears being embarrassed or looking stupid

Core Problems

  • Social and/or Occupational Impairment [ 1, 2, 3 ]
  • Phobia (Excessive Fear of Specific Social Situations) [ 4, 5 ]

Complications

Individuals with this disorder may develop hypersensitivity to criticism, negative evaluation, or rejection. They often have difficulty being assertive; and have a low self-esteem or have feelings of inferiority. They often fear indirect evaluation by others, such as taking a test. They may have poor social skills (e.g., poor eye contact) or observable signs of anxiety (e.g., cold clammy hands, tremors, shaky voice). They may underachieve at school due to test anxiety or avoidance of classroom participation. They may underachieve at work because of anxiety during, or avoidance of, speaking in groups, in public, or to authority figures and colleagues. They often have few friends and are less likely to marry. In more severe cases, individuals may drop out of school, be unemployed and not seek work due to difficulty interviewing for jobs, have no friends or cling to unfulfilling relationships, completely refrain from dating, or remain with their family of origin.

Comorbidity

Females have comorbid depressive, bipolar, and anxiety disorders, whereas males are more likely to fear dating, have oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder, and use alcohol and illicit drugs to relieve symptoms of this disorder. The following disorders frequently are associated with social anxiety disorder:

Associated Laboratory Findings

No laboratory test has been found to be diagnostic of this disorder.

Prevalence

The 12-month prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder for America is 7%. Most individuals with this disorder fear public speaking, whereas somewhat less than half fear speaking to strangers or meeting new people. Other performance fears (e.g., eating, drinking, or writing in public, or using a public restroom) appear to be less common. In outpatient clinics, rates of Social Phobia have ranged between 10% and 20% of individuals with Anxiety Disorders. Social Anxiety Disorder is rarely the reason for admission to inpatient settings

Course

The median age of onset in America is 13, sometimes emerging out of a childhood history of social inhibition or shyness. However, some experience an onset in early childhood. Onset may abruptly follow a stressful or humiliating experience, or it may be insidious. The course may fluctuate with life stressors. For example, this disorder may diminish after a person with fear of dating marries and reemerge after death of a spouse.

Outcome

In the community, 30% recover within 1 year, and 50% recover within a few years.

Familial Pattern

Social Anxiety Disorder is heritable. First-degree relatives have a 2 to 6 times greater chance of having this disorder.

Effective Therapies

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), SSRI and SNRI antidepressant medication have all proven to be effective in the treatment of this disorder. Often a combination of CBT plus antidepressant medication is used.

Ineffective therapies

Vitamins and dietary supplements are ineffective for this disorder.

A Dangerous Cult


Back to top


Videos

Stories

Rating Scales

Which Behavioral Dimensions Are Involved?

Research has shown that there are 5 major dimensions (the "Big 5 Factors") of personality disorders and other mental disorders. There are two free online personality tests that assess your personality in terms of the "Big 5 dimensions of personality". Although not computerized online, the Big Five Inventory (BFI) is a 44-item test often used in personality research.

This website uses these 5 major dimensions of human behavior to describe all mental disorders. (This website adds one more dimension, "Physical Health", but our discussion will focus on the first 5 major dimensions.)

These 5 major dimensions of human behavior seem to represent 5 major dimensions whereby our early ancestors chose their hunting companions or spouse. To maximize their chance for survival, our ancestors wanted companions who were agreeable, conscientious, intelligent, enthusiastic, and calm.

    Which Dimensions of Human Behavior are Impaired in Social Anxiety Disorder?

    THE POSITIVE SIDE OF THE "BIG 5" PERSONALITY DIMENSIONS THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF THE "BIG 5" PERSONALITY DIMENSIONS DESCRIPTION (Where red = this disorder)
    Agreeableness Antagonism       Sympathetic, Kind vs. Critical, Quarrelsome
    Conscientiousness Disinhibition       Industrious, Orderly vs. Distractible, Disorganized
    Openness/Intellect Low Openness/Intellect       Open-Minded, Creative vs. Closed-Minded, Uncreative
    Sociability (Extraversion) Detachment       Enthusiastic, Assertive vs. Reserved, Quiet
    Emotional Stability Negative Emotion       Calm, Emotionally Stable vs. Anxious/Depressed, Emotionally Unstable

The 5 Major Dimensions of Mental Illness

Our website uses the "Big 5 Factors" of personality as major dimensions of mental illness. Each of these 5 dimensions has a healthy side and an unhealthy side. The Big 5 Factors are: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Openness/Intellect, Sociability (Extraversion), and Emotional Stability. Our website adds an additional factor, Physical Health. However, our discussion will primarily focus on the traditional "Big 5 Factors".



The Following Pictures Are of The International Space Station

AGREEABLENESS VS. ANTAGONISM
.
Agreeableness (Sympathetic, Kind)
.
Description: Agreeableness is synonymous with compassion and politeness. Compassion reflects empathy, sympathy, and caring for others. Politeness reflects respect for others’ needs and desires and a tendency to refrain from aggression. Agreeable people are interested in others, and they make people feel comfortable. The Agreeableness dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of LOVE and JUSTICE.
Descriptors: Compassionate, polite, warm, friendly, helpful, unselfish, generous, modest.
Language Characteristics: Pleasure talk, agreement, compliments, empathy, few personal attacks, few commands or global rejections, many self-references, few negations, few swear words, few threats, many insight words.
Research: Higher scores on Agreeableness are associated with deeper relationships. *MRI research found that Agreeableness was associated with increased volume in regions that process information about the intentions and mental states of other individuals.
"I am helpful and unselfish with others."
"I have a forgiving nature."
"I am generally trusting."
"I am considerate and kind to almost everyone."
"I like to cooperate with others."
"I don't find fault with others."
"I don't start quarrels with others."
"I am not cold and aloof."
"I am not rude to others."
"I feel other's emotions."
"I inquire about others' well-being."
"I sympathize with others' feelings."
"I take an interest in other people's lives."
"I like to do things for others."
"I respect authority."
"I hate to seem pushy."
"I avoid imposing my will on others."
"I rarely put people under pressure."
.
Antagonism (Critical, Quarrelsome)
.
Description: Antagonism is synonymous with competition and aggression. Antagonistic people are self-interested, and do not see others positively.
Descriptors: Manipulative, deceitful, grandiose, callous, disrespectful, unfriendly, suspicious, uncooperative, malicious.
Language Characteristics: Problem talk, dissatisfaction, little empathy, many personal attacks, many commands or global rejections, few self-references, many negations, many swear words, many threats, little politeness, few insight words.
.
* Callousness:
"It's no big deal if I hurt other people's feelings."
"Being rude and unfriendly is just a part of who I am."
"I often get into physical fights."
"I enjoy making people in control look stupid."
"I am not interested in other people's problems."
"I can't be bothered with other's needs."
"I am indifferent to the feelings of others."
"I don't have a soft side."
"I take no time for others."
.
* Deceitfulness:
"I don't hesitate to cheat if it gets me ahead."
"Lying comes easily to me."
"I use people to get what I want."
"People don't realize that I'm flattering them to get something."
.
* Manipulativeness:
"I use people to get what I want."
"It is easy for me to take advantage of others."
"I'm good at conning people."
"I am out for my own personal gain."
.
* Grandiosity:
"I'm better than almost everyone else."
"I often have to deal with people who are less important than me."
"To be honest, I'm just more important than other people."
"I deserve special treatment."
.
* Suspiciousness:
"It seems like I'm always getting a “raw deal” from others."
"I suspect that even my so-called 'friends' betray me a lot."
"Others would take advantage of me if they could."
"Plenty of people are out to get me."
"I'm always on my guard for someone trying to trick or harm me."
.
* Hostility:
"I am easily angered."
"I get irritated easily by all sorts of things."
"I am usually pretty hostile."
"I always make sure I get back at people who wrong me."
"I resent being told what to do, even by people in charge."
"I insult people."
"I seek conflict."
"I love a good fight."
.
("Agreeableness vs. Antagonism" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




CONSCIENTIOUSNESS VS. DISINHIBITION
.
Conscientiousness (Industrious, Orderly)
.
Description: Conscientiousness is synonymous with being industrious and orderly. Conscientiousness is related to the control of one’s impulses, resulting in careful, self-disciplined, and success driven people. The Conscientiousness dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of SELF-CONTROL.
Descriptors: Industrious, self-disciplined, rule-abiding, organized
Language Characteristics: Many positive emotion words (e.g. happy, good), few negative emotion words (e.g. hate, bad), more perspective, careful to check that information is conveyed correctly, straight to the point, formal, few negations, few swear words, few references to friends, few disfluencies or filler words, many insight words, not impulsive.
Research: Higher scores on Conscientiousness predict greater success in school and at work. *MRI research found that Conscientiousness was associated with increased volume in the lateral prefrontal cortex, a region involved in planning and the voluntary control of behavior.
"I do a thorough job. I want everything to be 'just right'. I want every detail taken care of."
"I am careful."
"I am a reliable hard-worker."
"I am organized. I follow a schedule and always know what I am doing."
"I like order. I keep things tidy."
"I see that rules are observed."
"I do things efficiently. I get things done quickly."
"I carry out my plans and finish what I start."
"I am not easily distracted."
.
Rigid Perfectionism (Excessive Conscientiousness)
.
"Even though it drives other people crazy, I insist on absolute perfection in everything I do."
"I simply won't put up with things being out of their proper places."
"People complain about my need to have everything all arranged."
"People tell me that I focus too much on minor details."
"I have a strict way of doing things."
"I postpone decisions."
.
Disinhibition (Distractible, Disorganized)
.
Description: Disinhibition is synonymous with being distractible, impulsive and disorganized.
Descriptors: Distractible, impulsive, irresponsible, disorganised, unreliable, careless, forgetful
Language Characteristics: Few positive emotion words, many negative emotion words, less perspective, less careful, more vague, informal, many negations, many swear words, many references to friends (e.g. pal, buddy), many disfluencies or filler words, few insight words, impulsive.
.
* Irresponsibility:
"I've skipped town to avoid responsibilities."
"I just skip appointments or meetings if I'm not in the mood."
"I'm often pretty careless with my own and others' things."
"Others see me as irresponsible."
"I make promises that I don't really intend to keep."
"I often forget to pay my bills."
.
* Impulsivity:
"I usually do things on impulse without thinking about what might happen as a result."
"Even though I know better, I can't stop making rash decisions."
"I feel like I act totally on impulse."
"I'm not good at planning ahead."
.
* Distractibility:
"I can't focus on things for very long."
"I am easily distracted."
"I have trouble pursuing specific goals even for short periods of time."
"I can't achieve goals because other things capture my attention."
"I often make mistakes because I don't pay close attention."
"I waste my time ."
"I find it difficult to get down to work."
"I mess things up."
"I don't put my mind on the task at hand."
.
* Reckless Risk Taking:
"I like to take risks."
"I have no limits when it comes to doing dangerous things."
"People would describe me as reckless."
"I don't think about getting hurt when I'm doing things that might be dangerous."
.
* Hyperactivity:
"I move excessively (e.g., can't sit still; restless; always on the go)."
"I'm starting lots more projects than usual or doing more risky things than usual."
.
* Over-Talkativeness:
"I talk excessively (e.g., I butt into conversations; I complete people's sentences)."
"Often I talk constantly and cannot be interrupted."
.
* Elation:
"I feel much more happy, cheerful, or self-confident than usual."
"I'm sleeping a lot less than usual, but I still have a lot of energy."
.
("Conscientiousness vs. Disinhibition" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




OPENNESS/INTELLECT vs. LOW OPENNESS/INTELLECT
.
Openness/Intellect (Open-Minded, Creative)
.
Description: Openness/Intellect (or "Openness To Experience") is synonymous with being open-minded and creative. People that are open to experience are usually creative, sophisticated, intellectual, curious and interested in art. The Openness/Intellect dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of WISDOM. Open-minded people ask "why?", are willing to challenge something that doesn't seem right, to listen to other people's opinions, and to be ever-ready to accept new truths, if the evidence is there.
Descriptors: Receptive to new ideas, curious, imaginative, creative, unconventional
Language Characteristics: Many positive emotion words (e.g. happy, good), high meaning elaboration, more perspective, politeness, few self-references, complex sentence constructions, few causation words, many inclusive words (e.g. with, and), few third person pronouns, many tentative words (e.g. maybe, guess), many insight words (e.g. think, see), few filler words and within-utterance pauses, stronger uncommon verbs.
Research: Higher scores on Openness/Intellect are associated with greater creativity and general intelligence. *MRI research found that Openness/Intellect did not have any significant correlation with the volume of any localized brain structure.
Relationship To General Intelligence: Research has shown that Openness/Intellect can be separated into 2 factors: Openness and Intellect. Intellect was independently associated with general intelligence (g) and with verbal and nonverbal intelligence about equally. Openness was independently associated only with verbal intelligence.
Example: This video shows how we see what we want to see. What we pay attention to (or what we believe about the world) blinds us to reality. (Exit YouTube after first video.)
"I am original, and come up with new ideas."
"I am curious about many different things."
"I am quick to understand things."
"I can handle a lot of information."
"I like to solve complex problems."
"I have a rich vocabulary."
"I think quickly and formulate ideas clearly."
"I enjoy the beauty of nature."
"I believe in the importance of art."
"I love to reflect on things."
"I get deeply immersed in music."
"I see beauty in things that others might not notice."
"I need a creative outlet."
.
Closed To Experience (Closed-Minded, Uncreative)
.
Description: Low Openness/Intellect (or "Closed To Experience") is synonymous with being closed-minded and uncreative. Low Openness/Intellect is associated with narrow-mindedness, unimaginativeness and ignorance.
Descriptors: Narrow-minded, conservative, ignorant, simple
Language Characteristics: Few positive emotion words, low meaning elaboration, less perspective, less politeness, few positive emotion words, many self-references, simple sentence construction, many causation words (e.g. because, hence), many third person pronouns, few tentative words, few insight words, many filler words and within-utterance pauses, milder verbs.
.
"I prefer work that is routine."
"I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas."
"I think slowly."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
"I avoid philosophical discussions."
"I avoid difficult reading material."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
"I have few artistic interests."
"I seldom notice the emotional aspects of paintings and pictures."
"I do not like poetry."
"I seldom get lost in thought."
"I seldom daydream."
.
Cognitive Impairment
.
* Memory Impairment:
"I have difficulty learning new things, or remembering things that happened a few days ago."
"I often forget a conversation I had the day before."
"I often forget to take my medications, or to keep my appointments."
.
.
* Impaired Reasoning:
"My judgment or ability to solve problems isn't good."
"I have difficulty understanding abstract ideas."
"I think slowly."
"People find it hard to follow my logic or understand my thoughts."
.
Psychoticism
.
Description: Psychoticism is the state of being psychotic or of being predisposed to develop psychosis.
Descriptors: Unusual beliefs and experiences, eccentricity, perceptual dysregulation.
.
* Eccentricity:
"I often have thoughts that make sense to me but that other people say are strange."
"Others seem to think I'm quite odd or unusual."
"My thoughts are strange and unpredictable."
"My thoughts often don’t make sense to others."
"Other people seem to think my behavior is weird."
"I have several habits that others find eccentric or strange."
"My thoughts often go off in odd or unusual directions."
.
* Unusual Beliefs and Experiences:
"I often have unusual experiences, such as sensing the presence of someone who isn't actually there."
"I've had some really weird experiences that are very difficult to explain."
"I have seen things that weren’t really there."
"I have some unusual abilities, like sometimes knowing exactly what someone is thinking."
"I sometimes have heard things that others couldn’t hear."
"Sometimes I can influence other people just by sending my thoughts to them."
"I often see unusual connections between things that most people miss."
.
* Perceptual Dysregulation:
"Things around me often feel unreal, or more real than usual."
"Sometimes I get this weird feeling that parts of my body feel like they're dead or not really me."
"It's weird, but sometimes ordinary objects seem to be a different shape than usual."
"Sometimes I feel 'controlled' by thoughts that belong to someone else."
"Sometimes I think someone else is removing thoughts from my head."
"I have periods in which I feel disconnected from the world or from myself."
"I can have trouble telling the difference between dreams and waking life."
"I often 'zone out' and then suddenly come to and realize that a lot of time has passed."
"Sometimes when I look at a familiar object, it's somehow like I'm seeing it for the first time."
"People often talk about me doing things I don't remember at all."
"I often can't control what I think about."
"I often see vivid dream-like images when I’m falling asleep or waking up."
.
("OPENNESS TO EXPERIENCE vs. BEING CLOSED TO EXPERIENCE" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




SOCIABILITY (EXTRAVERSION) vs. DETACHMENT
.
Sociability (Enthusiastic, Assertive)
.
Description: Sociability (Extraversion) is synonymous with being enthusiastic and assertive. Assertiveness encompasses traits relating to leadership, dominance, and drive. Enthusiasm encompasses both outgoing friendliness or sociability and the tendency to experience and express positive emotion. Extraverts tend to engage in social interaction; they are enthusiastic, risk-taking, talkative and assertive. The Sociability (Extraversion) dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of SOCIABILITY and LEADERSHIP.
Descriptors: Enthusiastic, assertive, gregarious, reward-seeking, talkative.
Language Characteristics: Many topics, higher verbal output, think out loud, pleasure talk, agreement, compliment, positive emotion words, sympathetic, concerned about hearer (but not empathetic), simple constructions, few unfilled pauses, few negations, few tentative words, informal language, many swear words, exaggeration (e.g. really), many words related to humans (e.g. man, pal), poor vocabulary.
Research: Higher scores on Sociability (extraversion) are associated with greater happiness and broader social connections. *MRI research found that Sociability (extraversion) was associated with increased volume of medial orbitofrontal cortex, a region involved in processing reward information.
"I'm talkative"
"I'm not reserved."
"I'm full of energy."
"I generate a lot of enthusiasm."
"I'm not quiet."
"I have an assertive personality."
"I'm not shy or inhibited."
"I am outgoing and sociable."
"I make friends easily."
"I warm up quickly to others."
"I show my feelings when I'm happy."
"I have a lot of fun."
"I laugh a lot."
"I take charge."
"I have a strong personality."
"I know how to captivate people."
"I see myself as a good leader."
"I can talk others into doing things."
"I am the first to act."
.
Attention Seeking (Excessive Sociability)
.
"I like to draw attention to myself."
"I crave attention."
"I do things to make sure people notice me."
"I do things so that people just have to admire me."
"My behavior is often bold and grabs peoples' attention."
.
Detachment (Reserved, Quiet)
.
Description: Detachment is synonymous with being reserved and quiet.
Descriptors: Withdrawn, anhedonic (pleasureless), intimacy avoiding, reserved, quiet, shy, passive, solitary, moody
Language Characteristics: Single topic, doesn't think out loud, problem talk, dissatisfaction, negative emotion words, not sympathetic, elaborated sentence constructions, many unfilled pauses, formal language, many negations, many tentative words (e.g. maybe, guess), few swear words, little exaggeration, few words related to humans, rich vocabulary.
.
* Social Withdrawal:
"I don’t like to get too close to people."
"I don't deal with people unless I have to."
"I'm not interested in making friends."
"I don’t like spending time with others."
"I say as little as possible when dealing with people."
"I keep to myself."
"I am hard to get to know."
"I reveal little about myself."
"I do not have an assertive personality."
"I lack the talent for influencing people."
"I wait for others to lead the way."
"I hold back my opinions."
.
* Intimacy Avoidance:
"I steer clear of romantic relationships."
"I prefer to keep romance out of my life."
"I prefer being alone to having a close romantic partner."
"I'm just not very interested in having sexual relationships."
"II break off relationships if they start to get close."
.
* Anhedonia (Lack of Pleasure):
"I often feel like nothing I do really matters."
"I almost never enjoy life."
"Nothing seems to make me feel good."
"Nothing seems to interest me very much."
"I almost never feel happy about my day-to-day activities."
"I rarely get enthusiastic about anything."
"I don't get as much pleasure out of things as others seem to."
.
* Restricted Emotions:
"I don't show emotions strongly."
"I don't get emotional."
"I never show emotions to others."
"I don't have very long-lasting emotional reactions to things."
"People tell me it's difficult to know what I'm feeling."
"I am not a very enthusiastic person."
.
("Sociability vs. Detachment" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.




EMOTIONAL STABILITY VS. NEGATIVE EMOTION
.
Emotional Stability (Calm, Emotionally Stable)
.
Description: Emotional Stability is synonymous with being calm and emotionally stable. The Emotional Stability dimension measures the behaviors that are central to the concept of COURAGE and CONFIDENCE.
Descriptors: Calm, even-tempered, peaceful, confident
Language Characteristics: Pleasure talk, agreement, compliment, low verbal productivity, few repetitions, neutral content, calm, few self-references, many short silent pauses, few long silent pauses, many tentative words, few aquiescence, little exaggeration, less frustration, low concreteness.
"I am relaxed, and I handle stress well."
"I am emotionally stable, and not easily upset."
"I remain calm in tense situations."
"I rarely get irritated."
"I keep my emotions under control."
"I rarely lose my composure."
"I am not easily annoyed."
"I seldom feel blue."
"I feel comfortable with myself."
"I rarely feel depressed."
"I am not embarrassed easily."
.
Negative Emotion (Anxious/Depressed, Emotionally Unstable)
.
Description: Degree to which people experience persistent anxiety or depression and are easily upset. (This could be thought of as high threat sensitivity or low stress tolerance.)
Descriptors: Emotionally unstable, anxious, separation-insecure, depressed, self-conscious, oversensitive, vulnerable.
Language Characteristics: Problem talk, dissatisfaction, high verbal productivity, many repetitions, polarised content, stressed, many self-references, few short silent pauses, many long silent pauses, few tentative words, more aquiescence, many self references, exaggeration, frustration, high concreteness.
Research: Lower scores on Emotional Stability are associated with unhappiness, dysfunctional relationships, and mental health problems. *MRI research found that Low Emotional Stability (= Negative Emotion or Neuroticism) was associated with increased volume of brain regions associated with threat, punishment, and negative emotions.
.
* Emotional Instability:
"I get emotional easily, often for very little reason."
"I get emotional over every little thing."
"My emotions are unpredictable."
"I never know where my emotions will go from moment to moment."
"I am a highly emotional person."
"I have much stronger emotional reactions than almost everyone else."
"My emotions sometimes change for no good reason."
"I get angry easily."
"I get upset easily."
"I change my mood a lot."
"I am a person whose moods go up and down easily."
"I get easily agitated."
"I can be stirred up easily."
.
* Anxiety:
"I worry about almost everything."
"I'm always fearful or on edge about bad things that might happen."
"I always expect the worst to happen."
"I am a very anxious person."
"I get very nervous when I think about the future."
"I often worry that something bad will happen due to mistakes I made in the past."
"I am filled with doubts about things."
"I feel threatened easily."
"I am afraid of many things."
.
* Separation Insecurity:
"I fear being alone in life more than anything else."
"I can't stand being left alone, even for a few hours."
"I’d rather be in a bad relationship than be alone."
"I'll do just about anything to keep someone from abandoning me."
"I dread being without someone to love me."
.
* Submissiveness:
"I usually do what others think I should do."
"I do what other people tell me to do."
"I change what I do depending on what others want."
.
* Perseveration:
"I get stuck on one way of doing things, even when it's clear it won't work."
"I get stuck on things a lot."
"It is hard for me to shift from one activity to another."
"I get fixated on certain things and can’t stop."
"I feel compelled to go on with things even when it makes little sense to do so."
"I keep approaching things the same way, even when it isn’t working."
.
* Depressed Mood:
"I have no worth as a person."
"Everything seems pointless to me."
"I often feel like a failure."
"The world would be better off if I were dead."
"The future looks really hopeless to me."
"I often feel just miserable."
"I'm very dissatisfied with myself."
"I often feel like nothing I do really matters."
"I know I'll commit suicide sooner or later."
"I talk about suicide a lot."
"I feel guilty much of the time."
"I'm so ashamed by how I've let people down in lots of little ways."
"I am easily discouraged."
"I become overwhelmed by events."
.
("Emotional Stability vs. Negative Emotion" modified from "PID-5" by Kreuger RF, Derringer J, Markon KE, Watson D, Skodol AE and Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five)
*MRI Research: Testing predictions from personality neuroscience. Brain structure and the big five.


The "Big 5 Factors" of Personality as Shown In Dogs

The same "Big 5 Factors" of personality found in humans can be found in dogs. This makes sense because dogs, like humans, are a social species.



AGREEABLENESS VS. ANTAGONISM
.
Agreeableness ("Friend")
.
Dog is friendly towards unfamiliar people.
Dog is friendly towards other dogs.
When off leash, dog comes immediately when called.
Dog willingly shares toys with other dogs.
Dog leaves food or objects alone when told to do so.
.
Antagonism ("Foe")
.
Dog is dominant over other dogs.
Dog is assertive with other dogs (e.g., if in a home with other dogs, when greeting).
Dog behaves aggressively towards unfamiliar people.
Dog shows aggression when nervous or fearful.
Dog aggressively guards coveted items (e.g., stolen item, treats, food bowl).
Dog is quick to sneak out through open doors, gates.

CONSCIENTIOUSNESS VS. DISINHIBITION
.
Conscientiousness ("Self-Controlled")
.
Dog works at tasks (e.g., getting treats out of a dispenser, shredding toys) until entirely finished.
Dog works hard all day herding or pulling a sleigh (if a "working dog" on the farm or in the snow). *
Dog is curious.
.
Disinhibition ("Disinhibited")
.
Dog is boisterous.
Dog seeks constant activity.
Dog is very excitable around other dogs.

OPENNESS/INTELLECT vs. LOW OPENNESS/INTELLECT
.
Open To Experience ("Open-Minded")
.
Dog is able to focus on a task in a distracting situation (e.g., loud or busy places, around other dogs).
.
Closed To Experience ("Closed-Minded")
.
Dog is slow to respond to corrections.
Dog ignores commands.
Dog is slow to learn new tricks or tasks.

SOCIABILITY (EXTRAVERSION) vs. DETACHMENT
.
Sociability ("Approach")
.
Dog is attention seeking (e.g., nuzzling, pawing or jumping up on family members looking for attention and physical contact).*
Dog seeks companionship from people.
Dog is affectionate.
.
Detachment ("Avoidance")
.
Dog is aloof.
Dog gets bored in play quickly.
Dog is lethargic.

EMOTIONAL STABILITY VS. NEGATIVE EMOTION
.
Emotional Stability ("Safety")
.
Dog tends to be calm.
Dog is relaxed when greeting people.
Dog is confident.
Dog adapts easily to new situations and environments.
.
Negative Emotion ("Danger")
.
Dog is anxious.
Dog is shy.
Dog behaves fearfully towards unfamiliar people.
Dog exhibits fearful behaviors when restrained.
Dog avoids other dogs.
Dog behaves fearfully towards other dogs.
Dog behaves submissively (e.g., rolls over, avoids eye contact, licks lips) when greeting other dogs.
.
Modified from Jones, A. C. (2009). Development and validation of a dog personality questionnaire. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Texas, Austin.

* New items added by Phillip W. Long MD

Notice the Personality Differences Between Dogs and Humans

Dogs and humans are strikingly similar on 4 of the "Big 5 Factors" of personality. However, dogs and humans are quite different on the "Conscientiousness" factor - because the canine brain isn't designed to organize work projects. That's why dogs don't build dog houses.

Two of the "Big 5 Factors" of dog personality are clearly a function of dogs being a social species that forms social hierarchies: (1) the "Agreeableness" factor describes "friend vs. foe" behaviors, and (2) the "Sociability" factor describes "approach vs. avoidance" behaviors.

The "Openness to Experience" describes the ability to learn from experience. The "Emotional Stability" factor describes "safety vs. danger" behaviors.

The Brain and the "Big-5 Factors" of Human and Dog Personality

It could be that the "Big-5 Factors" of personality represent some extremely basic brain functions. For example, when a young man approaches a young woman, she must: (1) decide whether he is friend or foe ["Agreeableness"], (2) decide if this represents safety or danger ["Emotional Stability"], (3) decide whether to approach or avoid him ["Sociability"], (4) decide whether to be self-controlled or disinhibited ["Conscientiousness"], and (5) learn from this experience ["Openness to Experience"].


Back to top


Treatment

Treatment Guidelines

Treatment

Summary Of NICE Social Anxiety Treatment Recommendations (2013)

Interventions for Adults With Social Anxiety Disorder

Treatment Principles

All interventions for adults with social anxiety disorder should be delivered by competent practitioners. Psychological interventions should be based on the relevant treatment manual(s), which should guide the structure and duration of the intervention. Practitioners should consider using competence frameworks developed from the relevant treatment manual(s) and for all interventions should:

  • Receive regular, high-quality outcome-informed supervision
  • Use routine sessional outcome measures (for example, the SPIN or LSAS) and ensure that the person with social anxiety is involved in reviewing the efficacy of the treatment
  • Engage in monitoring and evaluation of treatment adherence and practitioner competence – for example, by using video and audio tapes, and external audit and scrutiny if appropriate.

Initial Treatment Options for Adults With Social Anxiety Disorder

Offer adults with social anxiety disorder individual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that has been specifically developed to treat social anxiety disorder (based on the Clark and Wells model or the Heimberg model; see recommendations below under "Delivering Psychological Interventions for Adults").

Do not routinely offer group CBT in preference to individual CBT. Although there is evidence that group CBT is more effective than most other interventions, it is less clinically and cost effective than individual CBT.

For adults who decline CBT and wish to consider another psychological intervention, offer CBT-based supported self-help (see recommendation below under "Delivering Psychological Interventions for Adults").

For adults who decline cognitive behavioural interventions and express a preference for a pharmacological intervention, discuss their reasons for declining cognitive behavioural interventions and address any concerns.

If the person wishes to proceed with a pharmacological intervention, offer a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) (escitalopram or sertraline). Monitor the person carefully for adverse reactions (see recommendations below under "Prescribing and Monitoring Pharmacological Interventions in Adults").

For adults who decline cognitive behavioural and pharmacological interventions, consider short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy that has been specifically developed to treat social anxiety disorder (see recommendation below under "Delivering Psychological Interventions for Adults"). Be aware of the more limited clinical effectiveness and lower cost effectiveness of this intervention compared with CBT, self-help and pharmacological interventions.

Options for Adults With No or a Partial Response to Initial Treatment

For adults whose symptoms of social anxiety disorder have only partially responded to individual CBT after an adequate course of treatment, consider a pharmacological intervention (see recommendation above under "Initial treatment options for adults with social anxiety disorder") in combination with individual CBT.

For adults whose symptoms have only partially responded to an SSRI (escitalopram or sertraline) after 10 to 12 weeks of treatment, offer individual CBT in addition to the SSRI.

For adults whose symptoms have not responded to an SSRI (escitalopram or sertraline) or who cannot tolerate the side effects, offer an alternative SSRI (fluvoxamine1 or paroxetine) or a serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) (venlafaxine), taking into account:

  • The tendency of paroxetine and venlafaxine to produce a discontinuation syndrome (which may be reduced by extended-release preparations)
  • The risk of suicide and likelihood of toxicity in overdose

For adults whose symptoms have not responded to an alternative SSRI or an SNRI, offer a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (phenelzine2 or moclobemide).

Discuss the option of individual CBT with adults whose symptoms have not responded to pharmacological interventions.

1 At the time of publication (May 2013) fluvoxamine did not have a UK marketing authorisation for use in adults with social anxiety disorder. The prescriber should follow relevant professional guidance, taking full responsibility for the decision. Informed consent should be obtained and documented.

2 At the time of publication (May 2013) phenelzine did not have a UK marketing authorisation for use in adults with social anxiety disorder. The prescriber should follow relevant professional guidance, taking full responsibility for the decision. Informed consent should be obtained and documented.

Delivering Psychological Interventions for Adults

Individual CBT (the Clark and Wells model) for social anxiety disorder should consist of up to 14 sessions of 90 minutes' duration over approximately 4 months and include the following:

  • Education about social anxiety
  • Experiential exercises to demonstrate the adverse effects of self-focused attention and safety-seeking behaviours
  • Video feedback to correct distorted negative self-imagery
  • Systematic training in externally focused attention
  • Within-session behavioural experiments to test negative beliefs with linked homework assignments
  • Discrimination training or rescripting to deal with problematic memories of social trauma
  • Examination and modification of core beliefs
  • Modification of problematic pre- and post-event processing
  • Relapse prevention

Individual CBT (the Heimberg model) for social anxiety disorder should consist of 15 sessions of 60 minutes' duration, and 1 session of 90 minutes for exposure, over approximately 4 months, and include the following:

  • Education about social anxiety
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Graduated exposure to feared social situations, both within treatment sessions and as homework
  • Examination and modification of core beliefs
  • Relapse prevention

Supported self-help for social anxiety disorder should consist of:

  • Typically up to 9 sessions of supported use of a CBT-based self-help book over 3–4 months
  • Support to use the materials, either face to face or by telephone, for a total of 3 hours over the course of the treatment

Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder should consist of typically up to 25–30 sessions of 50 minutes' duration over 6–8 months and include the following:

  • Education about social anxiety disorder
  • Establishing a secure positive therapeutic alliance to modify insecure attachments
  • A focus on a core conflictual relationship theme associated with social anxiety symptoms
  • A focus on shame
  • Encouraging exposure to feared social situations outside therapy sessions
  • Support to establish a self-affirming inner dialogue
  • Help to improve social skills

Prescribing and Monitoring Pharmacological Interventions in Adults

Before prescribing a pharmacological intervention for social anxiety disorder, discuss the treatment options and any concerns the person has about taking medication. Explain fully the reasons for prescribing and provide written and verbal information on:

  • The likely benefits of different drugs
  • The different propensities of each drug for side effects, discontinuation syndromes and drug interactions
  • The risk of early activation symptoms with SSRIs and SNRIs, such as increased anxiety, agitation, jitteriness and problems sleeping
  • The gradual development, over 2 weeks or more, of the full anxiolytic effect
  • The importance of taking medication as prescribed, reporting side effects and discussing any concerns about stopping medication with the prescriber, and the need to continue treatment after remission to avoid relapse

Arrange to see people aged 30 years and older who are not assessed to be at risk of suicide within 1–2 weeks of first prescribing SSRIs or SNRIs to:

  • Discuss any possible side effects and potential interaction with symptoms of social anxiety disorder (for example, increased restlessness or agitation)
  • Advise and support them to engage in graduated exposure to feared or avoided social situations.

After the initial meeting (see recommendation above), arrange to see the person every 2–4 weeks during the first 3 months of treatment and every month thereafter. Continue to support them to engage in graduated exposure to feared or avoided social situations.

For people aged under 30 years who are offered an SSRI or SNRI:

  • Warn them that these drugs are associated with an increased risk of suicidal thinking and self-harm in a minority of people under 30 and
  • See them within 1 week of first prescribing and
  • Monitor the risk of suicidal thinking and self-harm weekly for the first month (this recommendation is from the NICE clinical guideline 113.

Arrange to see people who are assessed to be at risk of suicide weekly until there is no indication of increased suicide risk, then every 2–4 weeks during the first 3 months of treatment and every month thereafter. Continue to support them to engage in graduated exposure to feared or avoided social situations.

Advise people taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor of the dietary and pharmacological restrictions concerning the use of these drugs as set out in the British national formulary.

For people who develop side effects soon after starting a pharmacological intervention, provide information and consider 1 of the following strategies:

  • Monitoring the person's symptoms closely (if the side effects are mild and acceptable to the person)
  • Reducing the dose of the drug
  • Stopping the drug and offering either an alternative drug or individual CBT, according to the person's preference

This recommendation is adapted from the NICE clinical guideline 113.

If the person's symptoms of social anxiety disorder have responded well to a pharmacological intervention in the first 3 months, continue it for at least a further 6 months.

When stopping a pharmacological intervention, reduce the dose of the drug gradually. If symptoms reappear after the dose is lowered or the drug is stopped, consider increasing the dose, reintroducing the drug or offering individual CBT.

Identification and Assessment of Children and Young People

Identification of Children and Young People With Possible Social Anxiety Disorder

Health and social care professionals in primary care and education and community settings should be alert to possible anxiety disorders in children and young people, particularly those who avoid school, social or group activities or talking in social situations, or are irritable, excessively shy or overly reliant on parents or carers. Consider asking the child or young person about their feelings of anxiety, fear, avoidance, distress and associated behaviours (or a parent or carer) to help establish if social anxiety disorder is present, using these questions:

  • "Sometimes people get very scared when they have to do things with other people, especially people they don't know. They might worry about doing things with other people watching. They might get scared that they will do something silly or that people will make fun of them. They might not want to do these things or, if they have to do them, they might get very upset or cross."
    • "Do you/does your child get scared about doing things with other people, like talking, eating, going to parties, or other things at school or with friends?"
    • "Do you/does your child find it difficult to do things when other people are watching, like playing sport, being in plays or concerts, asking or answering questions, reading aloud, or giving talks in class?"
    • "Do you/does your child ever feel that you/your child can't do these things or try to get out of them?"

If the child or young person (or a parent or carer) answers 'yes' to one or more of the questions above, consider a comprehensive assessment for social anxiety disorder (see recommendations below under "Assessment of Children and Young People With Possible Social Anxiety Disorder").

If the identification questions (see first recommendation in this section) indicate possible social anxiety disorder, but the practitioner is not competent to perform a mental health assessment, refer the child or young person to an appropriate healthcare professional. If this professional is not the child or young person's GP, inform the GP of the referral.

Interventions for Children and Young People With Social Anxiety Disorder

Treatment Principles

All interventions for children and young people with social anxiety disorder should be delivered by competent practitioners. Psychological interventions should be based on the relevant treatment manual(s), which should guide the structure and duration of the intervention. Practitioners should consider using competence frameworks developed from the relevant treatment manual(s) and for all interventions should:

  • Receive regular high-quality supervision
  • Use routine sessional outcome measures, for example:
    • The LSAS–child version or the SPAI-C, and the SPIN or LSAS for young people
    • The MASC, RCADS, SCAS or SCARED for children
  • Engage in monitoring and evaluation of treatment adherence and practitioner competence – for example, by using video and audio tapes, and external audit and scrutiny if appropriate

Be aware of the impact of the home, school and wider social environments on the maintenance and treatment of social anxiety disorder. Maintain a focus on the child or young person's emotional, educational and social needs and work with parents, teachers, other adults and the child or young person's peers to create an environment that supports the achievement of the agreed goals of treatment.

Treatment for Children and Young People With Social Anxiety Disorder

Offer individual or group CBT focused on social anxiety (see recommendation below under the section "Delivering psychological interventions for children and young people") to children and young people with social anxiety disorder. Consider involving parents or carers to ensure the effective delivery of the intervention, particularly in young children.

Delivering Psychological Interventions for Children and Young People

Individual CBT should consist of the following, taking into account the child or young person's cognitive and emotional maturity:

  • 8–12 sessions of 45 minutes' duration
  • Psychoeducation, exposure to feared or avoided social situations, training in social skills and opportunities to rehearse skills in social situations
  • Psychoeducation and skills training for parents, particularly of young children, to promote and reinforce the child's exposure to feared or avoided social situations and development of skills

Group CBT should consist of the following, taking into account the child or young person's cognitive and emotional maturity:

  • 8–12 sessions of 90 minutes' duration with groups of children or young people of the same age range
  • Psychoeducation, exposure to feared or avoided social situations, training in social skills and opportunities to rehearse skills in social situations
  • Psychoeducation and skills training for parents, particularly of young children, to promote and reinforce the child's exposure to feared or avoided social situations and development of skills

Consider psychological interventions that were developed for adults (see "Interventions for Adults with Social Anxiety Disorder", above) for young people (typically aged 15 years and older) who have the cognitive and emotional capacity to undertake a treatment developed for adults.

Interventions That Are Not Recommended to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder

Do not routinely offer pharmacological interventions to treat social anxiety disorder in children and young people.

Do not routinely offer anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines or antipsychotic medication to treat social anxiety disorder in adults.

Do not routinely offer mindfulness-based interventions or supportive therapy to treat social anxiety disorder (including mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy).

Do not offer St John's wort or other over-the-counter medications and preparations for anxiety to treat social anxiety disorder. Explain the potential interactions with other prescribed and over-the-counter medications and the lack of evidence to support their safe use.

Do not offer botulinum toxin to treat hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) in people with social anxiety disorder. This is because there is no good-quality evidence showing benefit from botulinum toxin in the treatment of social anxiety disorder and it may be harmful.

Do not offer endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy to treat hyperhidrosis or facial blushing in people with social anxiety disorder. This is because there is no good-quality evidence showing benefit from endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy in the treatment of social anxiety disorder and it may be harmful.

Specific Phobias

Interventions That Are Not Recommended

Do not routinely offer computerised CBT to treat specific phobias in adults.


Back to top





Research Shows Acts of Kindness Alleviate Social Anxiety

Self-Help Resources For Social Anxiety Disorder


Improving Positive Behavior

Philosophers for the past 2,500 years have taught that it is very beneficial to start the day with goal-setting, and end the day with a brief review.

This habit of planning the day in the morning, then assessing these plans in the evening has been shown to increase health and happiness. There is an additional benefit from doing a weekly review of your life satisfaction.

Note: When each of the following videos finishes; you must exit YouTube (by manually closing the window) in order to return to this webpage.



Planning My Day (5-Minute Meditation Video)



Reviewing My Day Or Week (5-Minute Meditation Video)



Life Satisfaction Scale (Video)



Healthy Social Behaviors Scale (Video)



Mental Health Scale (Video)

Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid



The Philosophy Of Stoicism (5 minute video)

Stoicism 101 (52 minute video)



The Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius ruled from 161 to 180 A.D.

Inspirational Videos

  • His Holiness Pope Francis is one of the few world leaders that champions universal love, brotherhood, and peace (TED talk)

    Life Is About Interactions (His Holiness Pope Francis)

    Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

    As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: "Why them and not me?" I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today's "discarded" people. And that's why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: "Why them and not me?"

    First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent "I," separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state. Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.

    Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve. While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they are not invincible. They can be overcome when we don't lock our door to the outside world. Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component. Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.

    Social Inclusion (Solidarity)

    And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the "culture of waste," which doesn't concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.

    Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary. Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone. Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being? In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The "you" is always a real presence, a person to take care of.

    Compassion

    There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between those who'd rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other. I am sure you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was asked: "Who is my neighbor?" - namely, "Who should I take care of?" - he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and abandoned along a dirt road. Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very influential people of the time, walked past him without stopping to help. After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by. Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he weren't even there. Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled him to act in a very concrete manner. He poured oil and wine on the wounds of the helpless man, brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him to be assisted.

    The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity. People's paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people. And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves "respectable," of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets. Mother Teresa actually said: "One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense." We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day? Thank God, no system can nullify our desire to open up to the good, to compassion and to our capacity to react against evil, all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you might tell me, "Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta." On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today's conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.

    Hope

    To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn't lock itself into darkness, that doesn't dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another "you," and another "you," and it turns into an "us." And so, does hope begin when we have an "us?" No. Hope began with one "you." When there is an "us," there begins a revolution.

    Tenderness

    The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution: the revolution of tenderness. And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.

    Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other. God himself descended into Jesus to be on our level. This is the same path the Good Samaritan took. This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire human existence practicing the real, concrete language of love. Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: "Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach." You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.

    The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a "you" and themselves as part of an "us." We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us.

  • The Surgeon General’s prescription of happiness (TEDMED talk)

    The Surgeon General’s prescription of happiness (Dr. Vivek Murthy)

    Happiness Increases Health

    If there was a factor in your life that could reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, that could increase your chances of living longer, that would make your children less likely to engage in crime or use drugs, and that would even increase your success in losing weight, what would that factor be?

    It turns out, it would be happiness.

    By happiness, I don't mean the feeling that comes from indulgence or hedonism, I mean the long-term emotional well-being that comes from fulfillment, purpose, connectedness and love.

    Happiness affects us on a biological level. Happy people have lower levels of cortisol, a key stess hormone. They have more favorable heart rates and blood pressures. They have stronger immune systems, and they have lower levels of inflammatory markers, like c-reactive protein which has been linked to coronary heart disease.

    It turns out, even when you control for smoking, physical activity and other health behaviors, happy people live longer. There's something about happiness that seems to be protective.

    Now I want to be clear. White happiness is an important factor in improving health, it's certainly not the only one. We know that good nutrition, exercise, and sleep are essential tools for preventing illness. Whether we are living with depression or with diabetes, treatment is essential too. Yet among all these factors for improving health, happiness stands out as a largely untapped and unrecognized resource that has the potential to transform health for individuals and for communities...

    (As a physician) the most common condition I treated was unhappiness. It stems from isolation, from lack of meaning, and from a loss of self-worth... (People) are constantly surrounded by news stories and narratives that only remind them time and time again of all the things they have to be worried about. All this unhappiness is important because unhappiness is a risk factor for illness.

    You may ask yourself does happiness really lead to better health? Isn't it the other way around? Doesn't happiness result from good health and favourable circumstances? We may sometimes think, I'll be happy if only I lose 15 more pounds, or if I get a better job, or if I make just a little more money. But the truth is happiness if far more driven by how we process life events than by the events themselves.

    So if happiness is protective, the key question is, can we create it. The answer is yes, and the way we do that is surprisingly simple, and it largely costs nothing.

    Gratitude

    The research tells us that gratitude exercises, meditation, physical exercise, and social connectedness are just a few of the tools we can use to increase happiness. Take gratitude for example, one study participants and randomized them to three different groups. In one group, the gratitude group, participants were asked to write down five things they were grateful for. In the second group, the hassle group, the participants were asked to write down 5 things that hassled them. In the third group, they were asked to write down five things that happened without a positive or negative slant.

    Now at the end of ten weeks, it turns out the participants in the gratitude group experience a greater level of optimism, and they had a more positive view of their life. But they also exercise by 1.5 hours more on average per week. They also slept better, and they had fewer physical symptoms like pain, nausea, and headaches.

    The simple practice of gratitude had the power to increase their happiness and to change their health behavior and their health outcomes.

    Meditation

    Perhaps one of the most powerful examples of cultivating happiness comes from Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, California. [Editor: The current academic performance at this school is very low (in the 20th percentile - hence 80% of other middle school students do better than this school's students). Thus this finding doesn't support the Surgeon General's claims that meditation training dramatically improved the school's academic performance.]

    Some years ago, Visitation was struggling. They were struggling with low test scores, with high suspension rates, and with so much community violence that they had to hire a full time grief counselor at the school. They tried all kinds of things to help. They started after-school programs, sports programs, peer counseling programs, but all without much luck.

    Then one day they decided to take a leap of faith. What if, they asked themselves, we use meditation as a tool to reduce stress and increase happiness for our students? So they created two 15-minute quiet time meditation sessions during each school day. They taught the teachers and the students how to meditate. They taught the administrators how to meditate as well.

    Within a year, something incredible happened. Suspension rates dropped by 45%. Teacher absenteeism dropped by 30%. Test scores and grade point averages rose markedly. The students reported they were less anxious and they were sleeping better.

    The self-reported happiness scores of the students went from one of the lower scores in San Francisco to the highest score in the entire district. As one student put it, "our school went from being a place of anger, sadness, and fear, to a place where we could be happy"....

    The Visitacion Valley Middle School model is being replicated at other schools now with comparable results. What is so striking about these tools for increasing happiness, meditation, gratitude, social connection, and exercise, is that they are simple and accessible.

    We have become accustomed to thinking that complex problems require complex solutions. But that's not always the case. Sometimes simple solutions can enable us to take on some of our most intractable problems. That's what happiness can do when it comes to health.

    Creating Happiness In The Lives Of Others

    If you think about it, all of us have the power to create happiness in our lives. But we also have the power to create happiness in the lives of others. If you need proof of this, I'd ask you to join me in a short exercise I learned from the legendary Mr. Rogers (host of a children's show).

    Close your eyes for 10 seconds with me and think about the people who have brought kindness, understanding, and joy into your life over the years - the people you remember that helped you to be happy. [audience pauses 10 seconds to do this]

    I remembered my wife Alice, my mother, my father, my sister. They have brought happiness, joy, and health into my life for so many years. Each of us has the power to touch other people's lives. Sometimes it's just a simple gesture or a kind word.

    Imagine if happiness and emotional well-being were prioritized in our schools as much as test scores and grades. Imagine if cultivating happiness was a priority in our workplaces. Imagine if our policymakers understood emotional well-being to be the fuel that enables us to be healthy, productive, and strong.

    So as we grapple with the challenges of how to create a healthier, stronger world, let us remember that happiness is a powerful tool for health. Let us remember that we can create happiness in our lives, and in the lives of the people around us. Let us call ourselves and each to action to ensure that emotional well-being is part of our policies, part of our institutions, and part of our way of life.

    If we do this, we will create a world that is full of joy, a world that is full of health, the world that our children deserve.

  • 10 ways to have a better conversation (TED talk)

    Ten ways to have a better conversation (Celeste Headlee)

    We've all had really great conversations. We've had them before. We know what it's like. The kind of conversation where you walk away feeling engaged and inspired, or where you feel like you've made a real connection or you've been perfectly understood. There is no reason why most of your interactions can't be like that.

    So I have 10 basic rules. I'm going to walk you through all of them, but honestly, if you just choose one of them and master it, you'll already enjoy better conversations.

    Number one: Don't multitask.

    And I don't mean just set down your cell phone or your tablet or your car keys or whatever is in your hand. I mean, be present. Be in that moment. Don't think about your argument you had with your boss. Don't think about what you're going to have for dinner. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation, but don't be half in it and half out of it.

    Number two: Don't pontificate.

    If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog.

    Now, there's a really good reason why I don't allow pundits on my show: Because they're really boring. If they're conservative, they're going to hate Obama and food stamps and abortion. If they're liberal, they're going to hate big banks and oil corporations and Dick Cheney. Totally predictable. And you don't want to be like that.

    You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn. The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires a setting aside of oneself. And sometimes that means setting aside your personal opinion. He said that sensing this acceptance, the speaker will become less and less vulnerable and more and more likely to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. Again, assume that you have something to learn.

    Bill Nye: "Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't." I put it this way: Everybody is an expert in something.

    Number three: Use open-ended questions.

    In this case, take a cue from journalists. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how. If you put in a complicated question, you're going to get a simple answer out. If I ask you, "Were you terrified?" you're going to respond to the most powerful word in that sentence, which is "terrified," and the answer is "Yes, I was" or "No, I wasn't." "Were you angry?" "Yes, I was very angry." Let them describe it. They're the ones that know. Try asking them things like, "What was that like?" "How did that feel?" Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you're going to get a much more interesting response.

    Number four: Go with the flow.

    That means thoughts will come into your mind and you need to let them go out of your mind. We've heard interviews often in which a guest is talking for several minutes and then the host comes back in and asks a question which seems like it comes out of nowhere, or it's already been answered. That means the host probably stopped listening two minutes ago because he thought of this really clever question, and he was just bound and determined to say that. And we do the exact same thing. We're sitting there having a conversation with someone, and then we remember that time that we met Hugh Jackman in a coffee shop.

    And we stop listening. Stories and ideas are going to come to you. You need to let them come and let them go.

    Number five: If you don't know, say that you don't know.

    Now, people on the radio, especially on NPR, are much more aware that they're going on the record, and so they're more careful about what they claim to be an expert in and what they claim to know for sure. Do that. Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.

    Number six: Don't equate your experience with theirs.

    If they're talking about having lost a family member, don't start talking about the time you lost a family member. If they're talking about the trouble they're having at work, don't tell them about how much you hate your job. It's not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it is not about you. You don't need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you've suffered. Somebody asked Stephen Hawking once what his IQ was, and he said, "I have no idea. People who brag about their IQs are losers."

    Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

    Number seven: Try not to repeat yourself.

    It's condescending, and it's really boring, and we tend to do it a lot. Especially in work conversations or in conversations with our kids, we have a point to make, so we just keep rephrasing it over and over. Don't do that.

    Number eight: Stay out of the weeds.

    Frankly, people don't care about the years, the names, the dates, all those details that you're struggling to come up with in your mind. They don't care. What they care about is you. They care about what you're like, what you have in common. So forget the details. Leave them out.

    Number nine: Listen.

    I cannot tell you how many really important people have said that listening is perhaps the most, the number one most important skill that you could develop. Buddha said, and I'm paraphrasing, "If your mouth is open, you're not learning." And Calvin Coolidge said, "No man ever listened his way out of a job."

    Why do we not listen to each other? Number one, we'd rather talk. When I'm talking, I'm in control. I don't have to hear anything I'm not interested in. I'm the center of attention. I can bolster my own identity. But there's another reason: We get distracted. The average person talks at about 225 word per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words. And look, I know, it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can't do that, you're not in a conversation. You're just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place.

    You have to listen to one another. Stephen Covey said it very beautifully. He said, "Most of us don't listen with the intent to understand. We listen with the intent to reply."

    Number 10: Be brief.

    "A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject." -- My Sister

    All of this boils down to the same basic concept, and it is this one: Be interested in other people.

  • What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? (TED talk)

  • An Example Of Mindfulness Meditation (10 minute video)

    In the 5th century BCE, Buddha spent 6 years of his life mastering mindfulness meditation. He then decided to look beyond meditation. Buddha concluded that simply emptying the mind of thought is calming, but otherwise it accomplishes little - since "You return to the same world". Instead, Buddha taught that we should change our world by seeking enlightenment through practicing compassion, and living a calm, peaceful, happy life.

  • Fulfilling trauma's hidden promise (TEDMED talk)

  • What makes life worth living in the face of death (TEDMED talk)

  • 100 People: A World Portrait (TEDMED talk)

  • Mindfulness Training: A simple way to break a bad habit (TEDMED talk)

  • If we can’t cure the patient, can the community do it? (TEDMED talk)

  • What if "it's the environment, stupid"? (TEDMED talk)

  • Medical miracle on Everest (TED talk)

    What makes this story so inspirational is that it is a story of heroism and self-sacrifice. How one climber could have survived, but instead died while trying to help his friend. How another climber knew that he was freezing to death, but chose to spend his final moments phoning his pregnant wife to say goodbye. How two climbers who were already in safety chose to climb back up Everest to rescue others. How one climber who was left for dead spent 36 hours covered by snow, then decided that he would not die this way, and actually made it down Everest to safety. This story illustrates just how noble people can be when they face death.

  • Secrets of Centenarians (NHK Documentary)

    Excellent scientific study on the factors that allow people to live past 100

Physical Exercise: Vital For Self-Help



Click Here For More Self-Help



Back to top




  • The best summary on bad research is given by Laura Arnold in this TEDx lecture. If you read nothing else about research, you owe it to yourself to watch this short video - it is excellent!

  • The power of asking "what if?"

  • The active placebo effect: 2300 years ago, the Greek Stoic philosophers taught that it is not the objective event, but our subjective judgment about the event, that determines our behavior. The active placebo effect bears witness to this ancient wisdom.

  • Criteria For High Quality Research Studies

  • It is troubling that a recent study found that two-thirds of important psychological research studies couldn't be replicated. High quality research must meet the following criteria:

    • Randomized Controlled Trial:
      Ask: Was the trial randomized? Was the randomization procedure described and was it appropriate? The best research design is to have research subjects randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. It is essential that confounding factors be controlled for by having a control group or comparator condition (no intervention, placebo, care as usual etc.).

    • Representative Sample:
      Ask: Do the research subjects represent a normal cross-section of the population being studied? Many psychological research studies using university students are flawed because their subjects are not representative of the normal population since they are all W.E.I.R.D. (White, Educated, Intelligent, Rich, and living in a Democracy).

    • Single Blind Trial:
      Ask: Was the treatment allocation concealed? It is essential that the research subjects are kept "blind" as to whether they are in the experimental or control group (in order to control for any placebo effects).

    • Double Blind Trial (Better Than Single Blind Trial):
      Ask: Were blind outcome assessments conducted? In a double blind study, neither the research subjects nor the outcome assessors know if the research subject is in the experimental or control group. This controls for both the placebo effect and assessor bias.

    • Baseline Comparability:
      Ask: Were groups similar at baseline on prognostic indicators? The experimental and control groups must be shown to be comparable at the beginning of the study.

    • Confounding Factors:
      Ask: Were there factors, that weren't controlled for, that could have seriously distorted the study's results? For example, research studies on the effectiveness of mindfulness cognitive therapy in preventing depressive relapse forgot to control for whether the research subjects were also simultaneously receiving antidepressant medication or other psychological treatments for depression.

    • Intervention Integrity:
      Ask: Was the research study protocal strictly followed? The research subjects must be shown to be compliant (e.g., taking their pills, attending therapy) and the therapists must be shown to be reliably delivering the intervention (e.g., staying on the research protocol).

    • Statistical analysis:
      Ask: Was a statistical power calculation described? The study should discuss its statistical power analysis; that is whether the study size is large enough to statistically detect a difference between the experimental and control group (should it occur) and usually this requires at least 50 research subjects in the study.

      Ask: Are the results both statistically significant and clinically significant? The results should be both statistically significant (with a p-value <0.05) and clinically significant using some measure of Effect Size such as Standardized Mean Difference (e.g., Cohen's d >= 0.33). The summary statistics should report what percentage of the total variance of the dependent variable (e.g., outcome) can be explained by the independent variable (e.g., intervention). In clinical studies, the study should report the number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB), and the number needed to treat for an additional harmful outcome (NNTH).

        Number Needed To Benefit (NNTB): This is defined as the number of patients that need to be treated for one of them to benefit compared with a control in a clinical trial. (It is defined as the inverse of the absolute risk reduction.) Note: Statistically, the NNTB depends on which control group is used for comparison - e.g., active treatment vs. placebo treatment, or active treatment vs. no treatment.

        Number Needed To Harm (NNTH): This is defined as the number of patients that need to be treated for one of them to be harmed compared with a control in a clinical trial. (It is defined as the inverse of the absolute increase in risk of harm.)

        Tomlinson found “an NNTB of 5 or less was probably associated with a meaningful health benefit,” while “an NNTB of 15 or more was quite certain to be associated with at most a small net health benefit.”

      Ask: Does the researcher accept full responsibility for the study's statistical analysis? The researcher should not just hand over the study's raw data to a corporation (that may have $1,000 million invested in the study) to do the statistical analysis.

    • Completeness of follow-up data:
      Ask: Was the number of withdrawals or dropouts in each group mentioned, and were reasons given for these withdrawals or dropouts? Less than 20% of the research subjects should drop out of the study. The intervention effect should persist over an adequate length of time.

    • Handling of missing data:
      Ask: Was the statistical analysis conducted on the intention-to-treat sample? There must be use of intention-to-treat analysis (as opposed to a completers-only analysis). In this way, all of the research subjects that started the study are included in the final statistical analysis. A completers-only analysis would disregard those research subjects that dropped out.

    • Replication of Findings:
      Ask: Can other researchers replicate this study's results? The research study's methodology should be clearly described so that the study can be easily replicated. The researcher's raw data should be available to other researchers to review (in order to detect errors or fraud).

    • Fraud:
      Ask: Is there a suspicion of fraud? In a research study, examine the independent and dependent variables that are always measured as a positive whole number (e.g., a variable measured on a 5-point Likert-type scale ranging from "1 = definitely false to 5 = definitely true" etc.). For each of these variables, look at their sample size (n), mean (M) and standard deviation (SD) before they undergo statistical analysis. There is a high suspicion of fraud in a study's statistics:

      • If the M is mathematically impossible (online calculator): This is one of the easiest ways to mathematically detect fraud. The mean (M) is defined as "the sum (Sum) of the values of each observation divided by the total number (n) of observations". So: M = Sum/n. Thus: (Sum) = (M) multiplied by (n). We know that, if a variable is always measured as a positive whole number, the sum of these observations always has to be a whole number. For these variables to test for fraud: calculate (M) multiplied by (n). This calculates the Sum which MUST be a positive whole number. If the calculated Sum isn't a positive whole number; the reported mean (M) is mathematically impossible - thus the researcher either cooked the data or made a mistake. A recent study of 260 research papers published in highly reputable psychological journals found that 1 in 2 of these research papers reported at least one impossible value, and 1 in 5 of these research papers reported multiple impossible values. When the authors of the 21 worst offending research papers were asked for their raw data (so that its reliability could be checked) - 57% angrily refused. Yet such release of raw data to other researchers is required by most scientific journals. (Here is an example of a research paper filled with mathematically impossible means.)

      • If the SD is mathematically impossible (online calculator): When researchers fraudulently "cook" their data, they may accidently give their data a mean and standard deviation that is mathematically impossible for a (normally distributed) strictly positive variable (because the "cooked" M and SD would mathematically require the strictly positive variable's range of data to include negative numbers). For a normally distributed sample of size of 25-70, this occurs when the SD is greater than one-half of the M; for a sample size of 70+, this occurs when the SD is greater than one-third of the M [using these formulas].

      • If the SD/M is very small (i.e., the variable's standard deviation is very small compared to the mean suggesting data smoothing).

      • If the SD's are almost identical (i.e., the variables have different means but almost identical standard deviations).

      • If the 4th digit of the values of the variables aren't uniformly distributed - since each should occur 10% of the time (Benford's Law).

      • If the researcher is legally prevented from publishing negative findings about a drug or therapy because that would violate the "nondisclosure of trade secrets" clause in the research contract (i.e., it is a "trade secret" that the drug or therapy is ineffective - hence this can not be "disclosed"). Approximately half of all registered clinical trials fail to publish their results.

      • If the researcher refuses to release his raw data to fellow researchers (so that they can check its validity). In order to be published in most scientific journals, a researcher must promise to share his raw data with fellow researchers. Thus a researcher's refusal to do so is almost a sure indicator of fraud.

      • If the research study's data contradicts the study's own conclusions - surprisingly, this often occurs.

  • Calling Bullshit In The Age of Big Data - "Bullshit is language, statistical figures, data graphics, and other forms of presentation intended to persuade by impressing and overwhelming a reader or listener, with a blatant disregard for truth and logical coherence." Reading the syllabus of this university course should be required reading for every student of mental health. This syllabus is absolutely fantastic!

  • Statistical Methods in Psychology Journals: Guidelines and Explanations - American Psychologist 1999

  • Not All Scientific Studies Are Created Equal - video

  • The efficacy of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatment

  • Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science

  • Psychologists grapple with validity of research

  • Industry sponsorship and research outcome (Review) - Cochrane Library

  • 'We've been deceived': Many clinical trial results are never published - (text and video)

  • Junk science misleading doctors and researchers

  • Junk science under spotlight after controversial firm buys Canadian journals

  • Medicine with a side of mysticism: Top hospitals promote unproven therapies - Are some doctors becoming modern witchdoctors?

  • When Evidence Says No, But Doctors Say Yes


  • Cochrane Collaboration - the best evidence-based, standardized reviews available

Research Topics

Social Anxiety Disorder - Latest Research (2016-2017)


Back to top


Internet Mental Health © 1995-2017 Phillip W. Long, M.D.