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Social anxiety disorder involves fear of social objects or situations. Social referencing may play an important role in the acquisition of this fear and could be a key determinant in future biomarkers and treatment pathways. However, the neural underpinnings mediating such learning in social anxiety are unknown. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined social reference learning in social anxiety disorder. Specifically, would patients with the disorder show increased amygdala activity during social reference learning, and further, following social reference learning, show particularly increased response to objects associated with other people's negative reactions?
A total of 32 unmedicated patients with social anxiety disorder and 22 age-, intelligence quotient- and gender-matched healthy individuals responded to objects that had become associated with others’ fearful, angry, happy or neutral reactions.
During the social reference learning phase, a significant group × social context interaction revealed that, relative to the comparison group, the social anxiety group showed a significantly greater response in the amygdala, as well as rostral, dorsomedial and lateral frontal and parietal cortices during the social, relative to non-social, referencing trials. In addition, during the object test phase, relative to the comparison group, the social anxiety group showed increased bilateral amygdala activation to objects associated with others’ fearful reactions, and a trend towards decreased amygdala activation to objects associated with others’ happy and neutral reactions.
These results suggest perturbed observational learning in social anxiety disorder. In addition, they further implicate the amygdala and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex in the disorder, and underscore their importance in future biomarker developments.
Cultural adaptations of evidence-based psychological treatments (PTs) are important to enhance their universal applicability. The aim of this study was to review systematically the literature on adaptations of PTs for depressive disorders for ethnic minorities in Western countries and for any population in non-Western countries to describe the process, extent and nature of the adaptations and the effectiveness of the adapted treatments.
Controlled trials were identified using database searches, key informants, previous reviews and reference lists. Data on the process and details of the adaptations were analyzed using qualitative methods and meta-analysis was used to assess treatment effectiveness.
Twenty studies were included in this review, of which 16 were included in the meta-analysis. The process of adaptation was reported in two-thirds of the studies. Most adaptations were found in the dimensions of language, context and therapist delivering the treatment. The meta-analysis revealed a statistically significant benefit in favor of the adapted treatment [standardized mean difference (SMD) −0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.94 to −0.49].
Cultural adaptations of PTs follow a systematic procedure and lead primarily to adaptations in the implementation of the treatments rather than their content. Such PTs are effective in the treatment of depressive disorders in populations other than those for whom they were originally developed.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is commonly chronic and/or recurrent. We aimed to determine whether a chronic and/or recurrent course of MDD is associated with acute and longer-term MDD treatment outcomes.
This cohort study recruited out-patients aged 18–75 years with non-psychotic MDD from 18 primary and 23 psychiatric care clinics across the USA. Participants were grouped as: chronic (index episode >2 years) and recurrent (n=398); chronic non-recurrent (n=257); non-chronic recurrent (n=1614); and non-chronic non-recurrent (n=387). Acute treatment was up to 14 weeks of citalopram (⩽60 mg/day) with up to 12 months of follow-up treatment. The primary outcomes for this report were remission [16-item Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology – Self-Rated (QIDS-SR16) ⩽5] or response (⩾50% reduction from baseline in QIDS-SR16) and time to first relapse [first QIDS-SR16 by Interactive Voice Response (IVR) ⩾11].
Most participants (85%) had a chronic and/or recurrent course; 15% had both. Chronic index episode was associated with greater sociodemographic disadvantage. Recurrent course was associated with earlier age of onset and greater family histories of depression and substance abuse. Remission rates were lowest and slowest for those with chronic index episodes. For participants in remission entering follow-up, relapse was most likely for the chronic and recurrent group, and least likely for the non-chronic, non-recurrent group. For participants not in remission when entering follow-up, prior course was unrelated to relapse.
Recurrent MDD is the norm for out-patients, of whom 15% also have a chronic index episode. Chronic and recurrent course of MDD may be useful in predicting acute and long-term MDD treatment outcomes.
Generalized social phobia (GSP) involves the fear/avoidance of social situations whereas generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) involves an intrusive worry about everyday life circumstances. It remains unclear whether these, highly co-morbid, conditions represent distinct disorders or alternative presentations of a single underlying pathology. In this study, we examined stimulus-reinforcement-based decision making in GSP and GAD.
Twenty unmedicated patients with GSP, 16 unmedicated patients with GAD and 19 age-, IQ- and gender-matched healthy comparison (HC) individuals completed the Differential Reward/Punishment Learning Task (DRPLT). In this task, the subject chooses between two objects associated with different levels of reward or punishment. Thus, response choice indexes not only reward/punishment sensitivity but also sensitivity to reward/punishment level according to between-object reinforcement distance.
We found that patients with GAD committed a significantly greater number of errors than both the patients with GSP and the HC individuals. By contrast, the patients with GSP and the HC individuals did not differ in performance on this task.
These results link GAD with anomalous non-affective-based decision making. They also indicate that GSP and GAD are associated with distinct pathophysiologies.
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