The Diagnosis and Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is considered an extremely under- recognized anxiety
disorder, with only 5 percent of patients receiving some form of treatment.
Often people recognize that they have a life-impairing condition but do not
realize they suffer from an actual medical disorder that can be treated with
supportive psychotherapy and medicine (most commonly the SSRI class of antidepressants).
We all suffer from shyness at some point, but social anxiety
disorder far exceeds shyness. Shyness involves having uncomfortable feelings
in social situations, but social anxiety disorder is a clinical diagnosis that
is much more pervasive, distressing and significantly interferes with normal
functioning. People are diagnosed with social anxiety disorder if the fear,
avoidance or anxious anticipation of a social or performance situation causes
marked distress or interferes significantly with their daily routines, job performance
or social life. The anxiety or avoidance of social situations typically leads
to clinically significant impairment or reduced quality of life.
There are several commonly
used tools to diagnose the severity and/or measure the improvement of social
anxiety disorder, including the Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN), the Clinical
Global Impression Scale (CGI), The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) and
the Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS).
Social anxiety disorder is not only socially and psychologically
disruptive. It can also be economically devastating to an individual-or a family--and
can have lifetime consequences. People with social anxiety disorder often avoid
confrontation with authority figures or colleagues at work or in school, have
decreased social support networks and are less likely to marry. People with
social anxiety disorder may drop out of school, lose their jobs and avoid seeking
work due to difficulty interviewing for jobs. They tend to have trouble creating
and maintaining friendships and romantic partnerships. In addition, anxiety
disorders cost the U.S. $42 billion in 1990 in direct and indirect costs.
If this condition sounds too familiar-if you suspect that
you or a loved one might be suffering from an anxiety disorder--consult your
physician or mental health provider. The good news is that there is help available;
all you have to do is avail yourself of that help.
Click here for more information about social anxiety disorder or other
mental health issues.
Created: 2/6/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.