Emotional and interpersonal mechanisms in community ssri treatment of social anxiety disorder

Lance M. Rappaport, Michael D. Hunter, Jennifer J. Russell, Gilbert Pinard, Pierre Bleau, D. S. Moskowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Affective and interpersonal behavioural patterns characteristic of social anxiety disorder show improvement during treatment with serotonin agonists (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), commonly used in the treatment of social anxiety disorder. The present study sought to establish whether, during community psychopharmacological treatment of social anxiety disorder, changes in positive or negative affect and agreeable or quarrelsome behaviour mediate improvement in social anxiety symptom severity or follow from it. Methods: Adults diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (n = 48) recorded their interpersonal behaviour and affect naturalistically in an event-contingent recording procedure for 1-week periods before and during the first 4 months of treatment with paroxetine. Participants and treating psychiatrists assessed the severity of social anxiety symptoms monthly. A multivariate latent change score framework examined temporally lagged associations of change in affect and interpersonal behaviour with change in social anxiety symptom sever-ity. Results: Elevated agreeable behaviour and positive affect predicted greater subsequent reduction in social anxiety symptom severity over the following month of treatment. Elevated negative affect, but not quarrelsome behaviour, predicted less subsequent reduction in symptom severity. Limitations: Limitations included limited assessment of extreme behaviour (e.g., violence) that may have precluded examining the efficacy of paroxetine because of the lack of a placebo control group. Conclusion: The present study suggests that interpersonal behaviour and affect may be putative mechanisms of action for serotonergic treatment of social anxiety disorder. Prosocial behaviour and positive affect increase during serotonergic treatment of social anxiety disorder. Specifically, modulating agreeable behav-iour, positive affect and negative affect in individuals’ daily lives may partially explain and refine clinical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E56-E64
JournalJournal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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