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Safety behaviours are hypothesized to play a vital role in maintaining social anxiety disorder (SAD), in part by orienting socially anxious individuals to adopt an avoidance-based mindset focused on self-protection and self-concealment. Evidence suggests an association between safety behaviour use and negative social outcomes for individuals with SAD. However, research has largely focused on the broad group of safety behaviours, whereas specific subtypes have received less attention.
The present study aimed to further our understanding of the negative interpersonal consequences of specific types of safety behaviours for individuals with SAD by examining whether active, inhibiting/restricting, or physical symptom management safety behaviour use affects perceived likeability and authenticity during a conversation with a stranger.
Individuals with SAD (n = 29; mean age 35.5 years) and healthy control (non-SAD) participants (n = 40; mean age 18.6 years) engaged in a semi-structured social interaction with trained confederates.
Participants with SAD were perceived as significantly less likeable and authentic by the confederates, and rated themselves as significantly less authentic compared with those without SAD. The association between group status and likeability was mediated by the use of inhibiting/restricting safety behaviours and the association between group status and participant-rated authenticity was mediated by the use of both inhibiting/restricting and active safety behaviours, but not physical symptom management strategies.
These results contribute to a growing literature suggesting that some, but not all, safety behaviours may play an important role in creating the negative social outcomes that individuals with SAD experience.
This study examined cannabis use motives in individuals with anxiety disorders and compared motives between infrequent and frequent cannabis users. It was hypothesised that coping motives would be endorsed at a significantly higher rate than other motives, and that frequent cannabis users would endorse coping motives significantly more than infrequent users. Participants were 144 adults seeking clinical services for anxiety disorders who reported using cannabis. Cannabis use was categorized by infrequent (n = 54) and frequent (n = 90) use. Anxiety symptoms were assessed and deemed clinically significant. Participants completed measures of cannabis use motives, cannabis use patterns, and cannabis use disorder symptoms, cross-sectionally. Cannabis use motives were examined for the entire sample and compared between frequent and infrequent users. In general, cannabis users endorsed coping (i.e., use for managing distress) and enhancement (i.e., use for fun, pleasant feeling, or the high) motives at equal rates (p = .265) and more than other motives (p < .001). Frequent users reported using cannabis for coping and expansion motives (i.e., use to change one's thinking) significantly more than infrequent users. These results indicate that individuals with anxiety disorders use cannabis for various reasons, some of which may not be directly related to their mental health symptoms. Future research is needed to compare motives for cannabis use in those with anxiety disorders, other mental health populations, and the general population, as well as examine motives for cannabis use within specific anxiety disorders.
Background: Post-event processing (PEP) is an important maintenance factor of social anxiety disorder (SAD). This study examined psychometric properties of the Positive Beliefs about Post-Event Processing Questionnaire (PB-PEPQ; Fisak & Hammond, 2013), which measures metacognitive beliefs about PEP. Method: Participants receiving treatment for SAD (n = 71) and other anxiety and related disorders (n = 266) completed self-report questionnaires at several timepoints. Results: Confirmatory factor analysis did not support the PB-PEPQ's proposed unidimensional model. Subsequent exploratory factor analysis yielded a three-factor structure consisting of engaging in PEP to (1) review negative events (Negative scale), (2) review positive events (Positive scale), and (3) better understand one's social anxiety (Understand scale). Within the SAD subsample, PB-PEPQ scales demonstrated good internal consistency (α = 0.83–0.85) and test–retest reliability (r = 0.65–0.78). Convergent and criterion validity of the PB-PEPQ Negative scale were supported. PB-PEPQ scale scores were significantly higher within the SAD group, as compared with the other groups (generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder and agoraphobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder), supporting the scales’ discriminative validity. Conclusion: Findings support the reliability and validity of the PB-PEPQ in a clinical sample and reveal the measure's multifactorial structure.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for problematic hoarding is an effective treatment, but further research in diverse, naturalistic settings is needed to see whether this treatment is effective across settings and in smaller doses. The current study investigated the outcome of a 12-session group CBT for hoarding offered in an outpatient hospital setting. Sixty-four participants completed therapy, and 38 participants completed posttreatment assessments. Results demonstrated statistically significant improvements in hoarding symptom severity, saving cognitions, and self-reported distress tolerance. Effect sizes for changes in saving cognitions were generally large. However, effect sizes were modest for most other outcome variables, and only 4 of 38 participants achieved clinically significant change in hoarding symptom severity. These results suggest that 12 sessions of group CBT for hoarding is associated with significant change in saving cognitions, but less meaningful change in other indicators of symptom severity.
Background: Transdiagnostic psychotherapies are designed to apply the same underlying treatment principles across a set of psychiatric disorders, without significant tailoring to specific diagnoses. Several transdiagnostic psychotherapy protocols have been developed recently, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. One promising treatment is Transdiagnostic Behaviour Therapy (TBT), in that it is one of the few transdiagnostic treatments to date shown to be effective in patients with depressive and anxiety disorders. However, TBT has only been investigated via individual psychotherapy. Aims: The present study investigated the effectiveness of a group protocol for TBT, compared with disorder-specific group psychotherapies, in a naturalistic setting. Method: 109 participants with various diagnoses of affective disorders completed either group TBT (n = 37) or a disorder-specific group psychotherapy (n = 72). Measures included assessments of psychiatric symptomatology and transdiagnostic impairment at baseline and post-treatment. Results: Overall, participants in the TBT group demonstrated significant improvements across all measures. When compared with disorder-specific groups, no statistical differences were observed between groups across symptoms; however, participants in the TBT group demonstrated roughly twice the treatment effect sizes in transdiagnostic impairment compared with participants in the disorder-specific groups. In addition, when participants from the most well-represented diagnosis and disorder-specific treatment (social anxiety disorder) were investigated separately, participants in the TBT group demonstrated significantly larger improvements in comorbid depressive symptoms than participants in the disorder-specific treatment. Conclusions: Pending replication and additional comparison studies, group TBT may provide an effective group treatment option for patients with affective disorders.
Background: Post-event processing (PEP) occurs when individuals engage in cognitive rumination following an event or interaction. Although the relation between PEP and social anxiety has been clearly demonstrated, it remains unclear whether PEP is limited to individuals with elevated social anxiety, or if it is also problematic among people with other anxiety presentations. Aims: The present study assessed PEP after the first session of group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in individuals with a variety of anxiety presentations. Method: Participants with a principal diagnosis of SAD (N = 25), those diagnosed with a principal other anxiety disorder with comorbid SAD (N = 18), and those with principal other anxiety diagnoses with no SAD (N = 43) completed baseline measures of social anxiety severity and state anxiety at their first session of CBT and measures of PEP one week later. Results: Participants with a principal diagnosis of SAD experienced the most PEP in the week following the first CBT session, while those with no comorbid SAD experienced the least. Those with comorbid SAD experienced intermediate levels of PEP. The strongest predictor of PEP was state anxiety during the first session. Conclusions: Results suggest that PEP is more problematic for clients with SAD as part of their clinical presentation. Clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.
Many individuals seeking treatment for social anxiety disorder (SAD) also meet criteria for a comorbid depressive disorder. Little is known, however, about how a comorbid depressive disorder affects social anxiety treatment. This study examined 61 participants with SAD and 72 with SAD and a comorbid depressive disorder (SAD+D) before and after 12 weeks of cognitive behavioural group therapy (CBGT) for social anxiety. Although patients with SAD+D reported more severe symptoms of social anxiety and depression at pretreatment, treatment was similarly effective for individuals with SAD and SAD+D. However, individuals with SAD+D continued to report higher symptom severity at post-treatment. Interestingly, CBGT for social anxiety also led to improvements in depressive symptoms despite the fact that depression was not targeted during treatment. Improvement in social anxiety symptoms predicted 26.8% of the variance in improvement in depressive symptoms. Results suggest that depressive symptoms need not be in remission for individuals to benefit from CBGT for social anxiety. However, more than 12 sessions of CBGT may be beneficial for individuals with comorbid depression.
Background: Post event processing (PEP) in social anxiety disorder involves rumination about social events after the fact, and is thought to be a crucial feature of the maintenance of the disorder. Aims: The current experiment aimed to manipulate the use of PEP in individuals with social anxiety disorder. Method: Forty-one individuals with social anxiety disorder completed a videotaped speech. Anxiety ratings and degree of PEP were measured after the task as well as the day following the experiment. Results: Individuals in the distract group reported a greater decrease in anxiety from baseline to post-experimental task than those asked to focus. Individuals in the distract group also reported higher PEP about the task than those instructed to complete a focus task, which appeared to be partially accounted for by baseline differences in symptom severity and state anxiety. Degree of PEP was positively correlated with anxiety ratings, both after the experimental task as well as 24 hours later. Conclusions: These findings suggest that naturalistic PEP is problematic for individuals with social anxiety disorder, especially for those with more severe symptoms. A distraction task, even with breakthrough PEP, appears to have useful short-term effects on anxiety reduction as compared to focus instructions.
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