BACKGROUND: Structural and functional brain imaging studies suggest abnormalities of the amygdala and hippocampus in posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. However, structural brain imaging studies in social phobia are lacking.
METHODS: In total, 24 patients with generalized social phobia (GSP) and 24 healthy controls underwent 3-dimensional structural magnetic resonance imaging of the amygdala and hippocampus and a clinical investigation.
RESULTS: Compared with controls, GSP patients had significantly reduced amygdalar (13%) and hippocampal (8%) size. The reduction in the size of the amygdala was statistically significant for men but not women. Smaller right-sided hippocampal volumes of GSP patients were significantly related to stronger disorder severity.
LIMITATIONS: Our sample included only patients with the generalized subtype of social phobia. Because we excluded patients with comorbid depression, our sample may not be representative.
CONCLUSION: We report for the first time volumetric results in patients with GSP. Future assessment of these patients will clarify whether these changes are reversed after successful treatment and whether they predict treatment response.