Project: Research project


Accumulating evidence that anxiety and depression may be
less distinct than previously thought has resulted in increased
interest in the relationship between the two syndromes.
Furthermore, comorbid presentations of anxiety and depression are
particularly resistant to psychosocial and pharmacological
interventions. Unfortunately our knowledge of the relationship
between the two has been limited by a number of factors including
a paucity of studies offering direct comparisons in clinical
samples. a;so, despite the well-recognized heterogeneity of both
anxiety and depression, most studies have employed samples of
mixed anxiety and depressive disorders. In light of these difficulties, the proposed study will
examine the interpersonal and cognitive functioning of clinically
severe socially phobic and dysthymic individuals. Theoretical
accounts and research evidence suggests these two disorders may
have many common aspects despite distinct clinical presentations.
For example, similar interpersonal and cognitive deficits are
often the focus of interventions for the two disorders and are
thought to be central in their etiology and maintenance.
However, despite this similarity, few studies have compared the
two groups. Furthermore, research suggests distinguishable
subtypes of social phobia exist but little is known about how the
subtypes differ from one another or from depressive disorders. This study will compare chronically depressed (dysthymic),
social phobic (generalized and nongeneralized subtypes), and
normal control subjects on cognitive, behavioral, physiological
and self-report measures. Following a careful diagnostic
screening, subjects will complete a battery of self-report
measures of anxiety, depression and general psychopathology,
participate in three brief roleplays (two interactions and a
public speaking task) and complete two information processing
tasks (a memory and an attention task). It is hypothesized that
dysthymics' verbal and nonverbal behavior during the roleplays
will be characterized by help-seeking and a negative affective
tone, in contrast to generalized social phobics who are expected
to adopt submissive, acquiescent strategies. Dysthymics are
expected to devote excessive cognitive resources to processing
negative information about themselves and to be overly concerned
with failing to achieve their own internal standards of success.
Social phobics, in contrast, are expected to demonstrate
attentional and memory biases for information related to how
others are evaluating them. Only nongeneralized social phobics
are expected to experience excessive physiological arousal when
public speaking. Results from the proposed study should increase our
understanding of the cognitive and interpersonal aspects of both
social phobia and dysthymia by identifying which aspects may be
unique to the particular disorder (or to an anxiety versus a mood
disorder) and which may be common to emotional disorders in
general. Such information may suggest potential etiological
variables which could be explored in future research. Also,
these findings will be useful in refining psychosocial treatments
for the two disorders and in the development of a treatment
strategy for those who experience both social phobia and
depression. The detailed examination of interpersonal behavior
and cognitive functioning will be particularly useful for
improving social skills and cognitive treatments, respectively.
Effective start/end date3/1/922/28/95


  • National Institutes of Health: $65,288.00
  • National Institutes of Health


Depressive Disorder
Verbal Behavior
Phobic Disorders
Anxiety Disorders
Self Report
Social Phobia


  • Medicine(all)