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20-02-2013 | Mental health | Article

Mismatch between social anxiety, cognition in schizophrenia


Free abstract

medwireNews: Patients with schizophrenia who also have social anxiety disorder actually have less impairment in social cognition than individuals with schizophrenia alone, research shows.

The schizophrenia patients with and without social anxiety disorder (n=26 and 29, respectively) significantly differed from each other with respect to their social knowledge performance, with better performance in the patients with social anxiety disorder.

The researchers comment in Schizophrenia Research that the fact that patients with social anxiety disorder had less, rather than more, encompassing social cognition deficits is intriguing.

"Interestingly, we showed that social knowledge performance specifically varied as a function of SAD [social anxiety disorder] diagnosis, regardless of levels of social anxiety symptoms measured using the LSAS [Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale]," write Amélie Achim (Laval University, Quebec City, Canada) and colleagues.

Schizophrenia patients with social anxiety disorder had higher social anxiety symptom ratings on the LSAS than non-social anxiety disorder patients, but the groups did not differ in their severity of positive and negative psychopathology symptoms.

When assessed with a social cognition test battery (the BICS), schizophrenia patients without social anxiety disorder had impaired social knowledge relative to those with social anxiety disorder and to 87 mentally healthy controls, whereas those with social anxiety disorder had normal social knowledge.

Both groups of schizophrenia patients had impaired mentalization skills relative to the controls, but nonsocial reasoning was significantly impaired only in the group without social anxiety disorder.

The researchers say the findings suggest that schizophrenia patients with social anxiety disorder form a distinct patient subgroup, with these patients showing a greater sensitivity to others.

While they have symptoms of social anxiety, they are less prone to social knowledge deficits, conclude Achim and colleagues.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

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