Doctors call for shyness drug debate

A DRUG for extreme shyness launched yesterday to help sufferers overcome their fearshould be examined by the NHS's purse- holders, doctors leaders said. Seroxat, an antidepressant for social phobia, is the third "lifestyle" drug to be licensed in the last month after Viagra and the anti-fat treatment for obesity, Xenical.

Although it has been available as a treatment for depression and obsessive -compulsive disorder for seven years, Seroxat has obtained a licence for the treatment of social anxiety disorder, a disabling condition which can leave patients too frightened of encountering others to leave their own homes.

The British Medical Association said the pressure imposed on the NHS budget by the development of new treatments and drugs made rationing inevitable. "A debate must be led by the Government and involve the public so that they know what they can and cannot get on the NHS," said Ian Bogle, the BMA chairman.

Dr Bogle said urgent guidance was needed for GPs on the prescribing of Viagra, which has been banned on the NHS since its launch last month. And he promised to "assist" Frank Dobson, the Secretary of State for Health, with measures to limit the availability of new drugs. But he ruled out a blanket ban on so-called "lifestyle" drugs.

Viagra, characterised as a "recreational" drug by Mr Dobson, had opened up discussion of men's sexual health which had ramifications on the whole family and was far from trivial. "Where do you draw the line? Is an oral contraceptive a lifestyle drug? I wouldn't want to go down that line - it's a very dangerous pathway," Dr Bogle said.

Between two and five per cent of the population are estimated to suffer from social anxiety disorder, marked by an extreme response to ordinary social situations, such as meeting people and going out. Typical symptoms are severe blushing, sweating, trembling, a thumping heart and finding it difficult or impossible, to speak. Some sufferers cannot sign a cheque because they fear the tremor in their hand will affect their signature and it will be questioned. They cannot use a public toilet because of anxiety about being overheard.

Professor David Nutt, a consultant psychiatrist at the University of Bristol, said many patients did not seek help because they did not think anything could be done. In others, the condition was dismissed or trivialised by their family who believed the patient would grow out of it. One women, in her 40s, had been a prisoner in her own home for 15 years until she read that treatment was available. Professor Nutt said: "Social anxiety disorder is not shyness but a severe incapacitating mental disorder. It is common, often lifelong, under-recognised and undertreated."

Psychological treatments, and older types of anti-depressants, have been shown to be effective in relieving the symptoms. Seroxat, which has fewer side effects than other drugs, has been shown to be effective in half to two-thirds of patients in three trials of 860 sufferers in Europe and the US. It costs pounds 20 for a month's supply of Seroxat. It costs around pounds 2 for a month's supply of the older type of anti-depressants.

Professor David Baldwin, a consultant psychiatrist at the University of Southampton, who co-ordinated the European trial, said two-thirds of patients would need to remain on the drug for life. "I tend to recommend psychological therapies together with drug therapy," he said.

Feared

Situations

SOCIAL Attending functions

(weddings, parties)

Conversation in a group Dating Speaking on the telephone Meeting people Eating in a restaurant

PERFORMANCE

Public speaking

Writing a cheque

Using a keyboard in

public

Playing sports

Using a public lavatory

Taking a test, eg

driving

Trying on clothes in

a shop

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam