Triumph Over Shyness
By Murray B. Stein, MD & John R. Walker, PhD
2002 New York: McGraw-Hill

The Hidden Face of Shyness
By Franklin Schneier, MD & Lawrence Welkowitz, PhD
1996 New York: Avon Books

Social Phobia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Treatment
Richard Heimberg, PhD, Michael R Liebowitz, MD, Debra Hope, PhD and Franklin Schneier, MD (Eds.)  1995 New York: Guilford Press.


Recent findings at our research center here at the Columbia University Medical Center have demonstrated promising steps forward in the development of psychotherapy and medication treatments which help people with social anxiety disorder.

In 2003, Dr. Carlos Blanco, Dr. Franklin Schneier and their collaborators systematically reviewed all existing reports on medication for social anxiety. They found  several classes of drugs to be helpful.  Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's), along with venlafaxine, a drug from a similar class, are good "first-line treatments," in that they can treat social anxiety as well as other problems which often occur at the same time, such as depression.  Some medications originally developed for other problems, such as Nardil (phenelzine), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Neurontin (gabapentin), were found in his review to be effective for social anxiety as a "second-line drug," for use when patients do not respond to SSRI's.

The efforts of our research team have resulted in reports showing that medications belonging to the class known as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI's, are effective in the treatment of social anxiety disorder.  In articles published in 1998 and 2005, Dr. Michael Liebowitz (then Director of the Social Anxiety Research Clinic) and his collaborators found Paxil (paroxetine) and Effexor (venlafaxine) to be effective in reducing social anxiety symptoms, with few side effects for most people.

A series of studies comparing and combining cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication for social anxiety disorder has helped establish that cognitive-behavioral  therapy can be equally effective as medication for many patients. Our most recent publication in this series, in 2010, found that the combination of medication and therapy may be particularly effective.

Another focus of the Social Anxiety Research Clinic has been to improve understanding of biological factors that may be related to social anxiety and its treatment.  In the late 1990s, Dr. Schneier and collaborators began to use PET imaging of the brain to measure chemical receptors in the brain.  A series of studies identified difference in receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine in persons with generalized social anxiety disorder. More recently, Dr. Schneier has used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to demonstrate differences in the way the brains of persons with social anxiety disorder process the experience of making direct eye contact.

More research is planned to continue to develop these and other findings, and to apply them to improving the diagnosis and treatment of social anxiety disorder.

Blanco C, Schneier FR, Schmidt A, Blanco-Jerez CR, Marshall RD, Sánchez-Lacay A,   Liebowitz MR (2003)  Pharmacological treatment of social anxiety disorder: A meta-analysis.  Depression and Anxiety, 18:29-40.

Heimberg RG. Liebowitz MR. Hope DA. Schneier FR. Holt CS. Welkowitz LA. Juster HR. Campeas R. Bruch MA. Cloitre M. Fallon B. Klein DF. (1998)  Cognitive-behavioral group therapy vs. phenelzine therapy for social phobia: 12-week outcome.  Archives of General Psychiatry, 55(12):1133-41.

Liebowitz MR. Gelenberg AJ. Munjack D. (2005)  Venlafaxine extended release vs placebo and paroxetine in social anxiety disorder.  Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(2):190-8.

Schneier FR. Liebowitz MR. Abi-Dargham A. Zea-Ponce Y. Lin SH. Laruelle M. (2000) Low dopamine D(2) receptor binding potential in social phobia.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 157(3):457-9.

Stein MB, Liebowitz MR, Lydiard RB, Pitts CD, Bushnell W, Gergel I. (1998)  Paroxetine treatment of generalized social phobia (social anxiety disorder): a randomized controlled trial.  Journal of the American Medical Association, 280(8):708-13.

Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University

For those living in the Philadelphia, PA area, the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University, in collaboration with the Social Anxiety Research Clinic of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University is conducting a social anxiety disorder treatment study. The study offers medical evaluation and medication treatment to all eligible participants, who may also receive additional cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder. Treatment and evaluation are provided free of charge to individuals admitted to the research study. The website also provides information and resources on other anxiety disorders.

Columbia University Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Research

New York Presbyterian Hospital
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic
New York State Psychiatric Institute
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
New York, NY

The website is devoted to education about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and provides information on how to volunteer to participate in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Center for the Study of Trauma & Resilience

Center for the Study of Trauma & Resilience
New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University
New York, NY

The website offers information on our research program that includes specialized treatment for 9/11-related PTSD at no cost, and an intensive resilience-building group program offered at September Space in Lower Manhattan. In addition, the website is dedicated to education about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and grief-related problems, and describes other treatment and research efforts underway at the Center.

The website is devoted to education about Problem Gambling, and provides information on how to get free treatment for problem gambling at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Visitors can take an online Problem Gambling Self-Assessment that helps determine the severity of their gambling problem. The site also provides information for teens with problem gambling.

This website describes the research studies conducted at the Depression Evaluation Service, an outpatient research and treatment clinic at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute that offers eligible participants a no-cost psychiatric evaluation and treatment for depression.  In addition, the website offers contact information for current research studies, information about depression in a question-answer format, and suggestions for further resources.