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Diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is not well understood by the general public or by medical and mental health professionals. As a result, the majority of people with social anxiety disorder may be misdiagnosed or untreated.
The diagnosis of social anxiety disorder is based on the following criteria being present for 6 months or more:
  • Typical symptoms with:
    • Feared social situations
    • Exposure to unfamiliar people or scrutiny
    • Fear of doing something humiliating or embarrassing
  • Your anxiety disrupts your ability to function in daily life. It may interfere with:
    • Normal routines
    • Success in school
    • Career
    • Social relationships
  • Your anxiety in social situations is very distressing, but recognized as excessive or unreasonable .
The process of making the diagnosis may include the following:
Initial Assessment – Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. You may be asked how long the symptoms have been present, how distressing they are, and how they affect your ability to function. You may be given a psychological assessment as well.
Evaluation of Other Psychiatric DisordersDepression, substance abuse (alcoholism or drug abuse), and other anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, panic attacks) often occur with social anxiety disorder. You may be tested for these and other disorders.

References

Schneier FR. Clinical practice. Social anxiety disorder. N Engl J Med. 2006;355:1029-1036.

Social Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder. Accessed December 28, 2012.

Social Phobia. American Family Doctor Association Familydoctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/social-phobia.html. Accessed December 28, 2012.

What is Social Anxiety? Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Association website. Available at: http://www.socialphobia.org/social-anxiety-fact-sheet. Accessed December 28, 2012. Social anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated October 29, 2013. Accessed November 26, 2013

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