Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Font Size

Talk Therapy May Help Treat Social Anxiety

Study Shows Changes in Brain Activity in People With Social Phobia Treated With Psychotherapy

The Study continued...

“The main purpose of our study was not to set out to establish whether cognitive behavioral therapy is effective for the treatment of social anxiety, but rather, to determine whether there is some neural correlate that changes alongside symptomatic improvement,” the study authors tell WebMD in an email.

Whether these findings are generalizable to other anxiety or psychological disorders is not known but does seem likely based on what is already known about the effects of CBT, the researchers say. “Future studies need to specifically test individuals diagnosed with other mood and anxiety disorders,” they say.

Study Limitations

Some people in the study were also taking medication to treat their social anxiety, which could skew the findings, but researchers attempted to control for this by making sure that medication dosages remained constant throughout the study. Still, “it would be ideal to follow up with medication-free patients with CBT alone in a future study. However, it is important to note that such plans also present significant challenges, as most outpatients seeking treatment for social anxiety disorder are already taking medications, and asking them to discontinue these would obviously be unethical,” the study authors say.

Talk Therapy Is a Part of Treatment for Social Phobia

Alan Manevitz, MD, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says the new study is helping to build an evidence-based case for the positive effects of psychotherapy.

“Social anxiety disorder treatment involves a multi-pronged treatment approach targeting the biology, psychology, and behavioral aspects of the disorder,” he says. “Social anxiety can be quite disabling, and we need to approach it on all these levels.”

More studies are needed to determine the effects of medication. “We know that psychotherapy and medicine work better together than psychotherapy alone or medication alone,” he says.

Srini Pillay, MD, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the author of Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons to Overcome Fear, is not surprised by the new findings.

“The finding that CBT changed brain function that correlated with improvements in social anxiety is expected,” he says in an email. “The fact that patients were medicated does raise the question of whether being on medication helped the treatment response and it might have, so we cannot say that CBT is a convincing first-line treatment yet,” he says. “We can say that CBT can alleviate symptoms, so for those people who decline to be on medication, there are other symptomatic treatments and some hope that they will feel better.”

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

young leukemia patient
Unhappy couple
embarrassed woman
Phobias frightened eyes
stressed boy in classroom
Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
man hiding with phone
chain watch