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Social Anxiety Disorder Scientific - Journal Article Critique

4 pages
918 words
Sewanee University of the South
Type of paper: 
Article review
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Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is a disorder that makes one extremely fearful in front of others. SAD is a prevalent psychiatric disorder that occurs in both people with related psychological impairments and the normal population (Hedman, Strom, Stunkel, & Mortberg, 2013). This disorder affects at least 15 percent of all adults in America (Mental Health America, 2017). Men are at the same risk of developing the disorder as women. In most people, SAD symptoms begin during adolescence or childhood. The main symptoms of SAD are avoidance of social situations that expose people to scrutiny by others such as public speaking. There are no specific causes of SAD, but it is commonly associated with negative past experiences like neglect, trauma, and abuse, as well as reserved personality traits. Notably, the disorder increases the risk of other disorders such as depression and substance abuse. There is three way to treat social anxiety disorder. The first one is the use of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to help the patients to cope with the causes of fear through continuous exposure. Besides therapy, SAD can be treated using medications such as beta-blockers and antidepressants. Lastly, joining support groups with people who have the same problem can be a great way to correct the disorder (Mental Health America, 2017).

Erik Hedman, Peter Strom, Angela Stunkel, and Ewa Mortberg researched to study manifestation and control of guilt and shame among individuals with SAD. The research took place in December 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden. For one year, the researchers studied the population to achieve three objectives. The first objective was to determine if there are individual differences in how people with SAD manage guilt and shame. Secondly, the study sought to determine if there is a connection between social anxiety and depressive symptoms, guilt, and shame associated with this population. Thirdly, they determined the feasibility of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in controlling shame among SAD patients (Hedman et al., 2013).

There were two categories of participants- SAD patients used as the experimental group, and healthy persons used as the control group. The researchers recruited the SAD patients from a random outpatient clinic. The control group comprised of healthy students from the University of Stockholm. In each group, participants were selected randomly. SAD patients that took part in this research was (n = 67) while the healthy students sample used as a control was (n = 72). There another group of (n=22) used as a control validation sample. In total, the participants were 161 people. The SAD patients were aged between 18 and 64 years, while the participants in the control groups were aged between 18 and 35 (Hedman et al., 2013). Both male and female participants were picked at random. The inclusion criteria in for the control groups involved the use of a Mini-Social Phobia Inventory to screen the participants for social anxiety scores. Apart from the screening, there was no other diagnosis for this group. For the experimental group, the researchers only included persons who had been clinically diagnosed with SAD (Hedman et al., 2013).

The researchers subjected the experimental group, which exclusively consisted of SAD patients, to CBT and followed them up for twelve months. The patients were tested for social anxiety scores before and after the treatment. The individuals in the control groups were not subjected to any treatment. The Mini Social Phobia Inventory test was administered for both groups to show individual social anxiety scores (Hedman et al., 2013). The test was developed at the Duke University Medical Center by Dr. Jonathan Davidson. It has a Likert scale that allows patients suffering from all types of social anxiety disorders to rate themselves based on three items: avoidance, reaction to being the center of attention, and patients main fears (Cuncic, 2010). The tests were done at the beginning of the study and the end of the one year period (Hedman et al., 2013).

The researchers reached three main findings, which suggest complex relationships between social anxiety and shame. First, a baseline analysis of shame and guilt scores on a standard scale showed that there was no significant difference in shame and guilt scores of SAD patients and the main control people. However, the replication group had much lower scores in these two areas than SAD patients. Secondly, the study found that depressive symptoms and social anxiety have independent correlations with shame. Thirdly, they found that shame scores reduced after subjecting SAD patients to CBT (Hedman et al., 2013).

Based on the objectives of the study, I think the procedure that the researchers adopted for this study was great, although it had room for improvements. Specifically, the researchers did well to have two control groups and two analysis designs. The control validation sample helped to demonstrate the validity of the study design while the use of both t-tests and case-control demonstrated the complex relationship between the study variables. However, think the study should have selected participants of the same age groups for each sample set as that would make the comparisons more valid. Lastly, this research might impact the society by recommending CBT to caregivers as an effective remedy for SAD. Similarly, learning about this study helped me appreciate the complex relationship between social anxiety and internal shame.


Cuncic, A. (2010, February 2). Learn About This Test Used to Screen for Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from

Hedman, E., Strom, P., Stunkel, A., & Mortberg, E. (2013). Shame and Guilt in Social Anxiety Disorder: Effects of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Association with Social Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms. PLoS ONE, 8(4), e61713. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061713

Mental Health America. (2017, March 29). Social Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from

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