April 4, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

As part of the National Social Anxiety Center’s (NSAC) service of disseminating and promoting evidence-based treatment, I’d like to share recent research regarding the genetic contribution to social anxiety disorder.

Researchers carried out an association study and identified changes to a gene (SLC6A4) responsible for the transportation of serotonin as involved in the etiology of the disorder. The author’s pointed out that there is much still to learn regarding the exact role of serotonin, as some studies even identify individuals with social phobia as having too much serotonin, not too little (Frick et al., 2015).

I’m curious if anyone familiar with this research has any thoughts on why individuals with social anxiety may have higher levels of serotonin? Or what experiences and environmental factors might lead to higher, or altered serotonin levels in these individuals?

“Further evidence for genetic variation at the serotonin transporter gene SLC6A4 contributing toward anxiety.”

Forstner, Andreas J.; Rambau, Stefanie; Friedrich, Nina; Ludwig, Kerstin U.; Böhmer, Anne C.; Mangold, Elisabeth; Maaser, Anna; Hess, Timo; Kleiman, Alexandra; Bittner, Antje; Nöthen, Markus M.; Becker, Jessica; Geiser, Franziska; Schumacher, Johannes; Conrad, Rupert. Psychiatric Genetics, March 7, 2017. Link to abstract.

Robert Yeilding, Psy.D.
Clinical Psychologist

Representative of NSAC Newport Beach / Orange County (Anxiety and
Depression Center)