A recent study conducted in the Netherlands on women suffering from social anxiety disorder found that participants who were high in avoidance tended to be significantly less fearful during treatment sessions after receiving testosterone compared to when given a placebo. has become clear. However, this effect did not persist into subsequent sessions and did not affect symptom severity. This study psychoneuroendocrinology.
Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme and persistent fear of social situations. People with this disorder often experience overwhelming anxiety and self-consciousness in social interactions, leading to a strong desire to avoid social events (i.e., social avoidance). These feelings of distress may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, and increased heart rate. Social anxiety can have a significant impact on a person’s daily life, interfering with their ability to form relationships, participate in social gatherings, and perform in public.
Standard treatments for this disorder include therapy and psychiatric medications, but scientists are always looking for new treatment options as well. One potentially promising substance for this purpose is the male hormone testosterone. Previous studies have shown that its administration can stimulate approach behavior in healthy people as well as highly avoidant people with social anxiety disorder.
Study author Moniek HM Hutschemaekers and colleagues aimed to investigate whether administering testosterone during exposure therapy to women with social anxiety disorder could effectively reduce social avoidance. The hypothesis was that testosterone would be most effective in women with the highest avoidance tendencies. To investigate this, researchers conducted an experiment.
The study included 55 female participants between the ages of 18 and 43 who suffered from social anxiety disorder. They were recruited from an outpatient clinic specializing in anxiety disorders at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and from the community.
Researchers randomly assigned participants to receive either testosterone treatment or placebo treatment. Testosterone treatment included a solution containing 0.5 ml of testosterone and other substances. The placebo solution contained the same substances except for testosterone. Four hours before her first exposure therapy session, the participant held the assigned solution under her tongue for 60 seconds. Neither the participants nor the researchers administering the treatment knew which solution each participant was receiving.
Participants underwent two public speaking exposure sessions lasting 90 minutes each. These sessions are called “exposure sessions” because participants are faced with the activity they fear, in this case public speaking. The first session took place after administration of either the placebo or testosterone treatment, and the second session was scheduled for her one week later.
Participants measured social anxiety symptom severity (using the Social Phobia Scale), fear level (using the Subjective Units of Distress Scale), and approach-avoidance tendencies (using the Approach-Avoidance Task) at multiple time points before and after the exposure session. completed the evaluation. . They also provided saliva samples at eight different time points throughout the study so the authors could monitor testosterone levels.
The results showed that participants assigned to testosterone treatment, particularly those high in avoidance, had significantly reduced fear immediately after taking testosterone compared to participants low in avoidance. This effect was not observed in the placebo group.
However, when the results of the second session were analyzed, no correlation was found between avoidance and fear reduction in the testosterone group. Interestingly, after accounting for baseline testosterone scores, higher avoidance scores were associated with lower overall fear levels in this group. The study authors found no effect of testosterone on social anxiety symptoms or a relationship between these symptoms and avoidance tendencies.
“This study shows that individuals with SAD [social anxiety disorder] “Those who enter exposure treatment with strong social avoidance tendencies may benefit from additional treatment with testosterone,” the study authors concluded.
This study reveals the effects of testosterone administration on women with social anxiety disorder. However, the study sample was very small. Because of this, researchers were unable to detect small effects.
paper, “Enhanced social avoidance and testosterone exposure effects in women with social anxiety disorder: A pilot study.” was written by Monique H.M. Hatchemichaels, Lianne A. De Kleine, Mirjam Kampmann, Jasper A.J. Smits, and Karin Roelofs.