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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder, previously called social phobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by a general intense fear of, or anxiety about, social or performance situations. People with social anxiety disorder worry that actions or behaviors associated with their anxiety will be negatively evaluated by others, leading them to feel embarrassed. This worry often causes people with social anxiety to avoid social situations. Social anxiety disorder can manifest in a range of situations, such as within the workplace or the school environment. Learn more about social anxiety disorder.

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For opportunities to participate in NIMH research on the NIH campus, visit the clinical research website. Travel and lodging assistance may be available.

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Featured Studies

Featured studies include only those currently recruiting participants. Studies with the most recent start date appear first.

Threat Interpretation Bias as Cognitive Marker and Treatment Target in Pediatric Anxiety

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: June 20, 2020
Location: Denver, Colorado
Eligibility: Ages 10–17, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

Anxiety is the most common mental health problem in children and adolescents. This two-phased study will test the effects of an experimental computerized intervention aimed at reducing threat-based thinking (i.e., interpretation bias) in anxious youth. Participants in both the R61 (N=46) and R33 (N=72) trials will be youth ages 10 to 17 with a primary anxiety disorder (Separation, Social, Generalized). In the R61 trial, youth will be randomly assigned to receive 16 sessions over 4 weeks of either a personalized cognitive bias modification program for interpretation bias (CBM-I) or a computerized control condition (ICC). If CBM-I reduces interpretation bias significantly more than the ICC, the R33 trial will commence. In the R33, youth will be randomly assigned to either CBM-I or an equal amount of time in a cognitive restructuring intervention, which also aims to reduce threat-based thinking in anxiety.

Transdiagnostic Brain-Behavior Profiling to Enhance Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Response

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: July 5, 2017
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Eligibility: Ages 18–65, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Many patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (gSAD) are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) but few have meaningful improvement. MDD and gSAD are diseases of brain dysfunction that manifest as impaired emotion regulation; CBT teaches emotion regulation strategies but how it works in the brain remains largely unknown. Individual differences in brain function related to emotion regulation may make some patients better suited for CBT and CBT may remedy the brain dysfunction that underlies these disorders. This project will compare CBT with a placebo psychotherapy (i.e., supportive therapy) in MDD and gSAD to test, validate, and refine brain-based markers and examine mechanisms of change to examine how CBT works and for whom.

Dimensional Brain Behavior Predictors of CBT Outcomes in Pediatric Anxiety

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: December 31, 2016
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Eligibility: Ages 7–17, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Anxiety is among the most prevalent, costly and disabling illnesses and tends emerge early in childhood. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the first-line treatment for early life anxiety, but as many as 40% of young patients who receive CBT fail to get better. The proposed study will examine brain changes marking positive response to CBT for anxiety and how these changes may differ in children compared adolescents. By helping us to understand how CBT works, this study will pave the way for new treatments to stop anxiety early.