Reinforcing Effects of Diazepam Under Anxiogenic Conditions in Individuals with Social Anxiety

Published in: Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, v. 13, no. 4, Nov. 2005, p. 348-356

by Todd C. Helmus, Manuel Tancer, Chris-Ellyn Johanson

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Diazepam (DZ) reinforcement was tested under anxiogenic (public speaking) and neutral (computer task) conditions. Individuals with social anxiety disorder (n = 11) and healthy controls (n = 11) participated in two 5-session phases. Each phase used a standard choice procedure (2 sample, 3 choice sessions) comparing 10-mg DZ and placebo. During the public speaking condition, DZ preference was greater among the participants with social anxiety compared with controls (81.8% vs. 36.4%; p < .05). Participants with social anxiety also gave DZ significantly higher crossover values on the multiple choice procedure under the speech condition compared with the computer condition. Subjective effects indicated that DZ reduced anxiety when levels were elevated during the speech in socially anxious participants. These results suggest that DZ reinforcement may occur under conditions of heightened anxiety by bestowing therapeutic efficacy.

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