Category: Transdiagnostic

Symposium

Mapping Network Connectivity Among Fear, Avoidance, and Comorbid Depressive Symptoms in People With SAD

Sunday, November 19
10:15 AM - 11:45 AM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom M & N, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Social Anxiety | Depression
Presentation Type: Symposium

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) and depressive symptoms often covary. Moreover, SAD usually emerges before depressive symptoms and the presence of comorbid depressive symptoms in people with SAD has severe clinical implications. Yet, uncertainty still abounds regarding how core symptoms of SAD, such as fear and avoidance of social situations, may propagate to depressive symptoms.  Inspired by novel network approaches to psychopathology that conceptualize mental disorders as complex dynamic systems of mutually interacting symptoms, we applied network analytic methods to clarify how core symptoms of SAD may possibly trigger each other and connect with comorbid depressive symptoms among 174 individuals with DSM-IV-TR criteria for SAD. We estimated an undirected regularized partial correlation network via the graphical LASSO algorithm.  Results indicated that avoidance of talking to authority figures and to strangers act as core hubs that likely activate other SAD symptoms and hence propagate to comorbid depressive symptoms, especially via connections to guilty feelings and pessimism. This study illuminates plausible core symptoms of SAD—i.e. avoidance of interactions with strangers and authority figures—that may trigger other SAD symptoms and activate depressive symptoms, producing the clinical picture of full-blown SAD with comorbid depressive symptoms. 

Alexandre Heeren

Postdoctoral Fellow
Harvard University

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Mapping Network Connectivity Among Fear, Avoidance, and Comorbid Depressive Symptoms in People With SAD



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