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Other Conditions That Can Cause Symptoms Similar to Social Anxiety Disorder


Social anxiety disorder is not easily confused with anxiety that primarily results from physical disorders (such as head trauma or an overactive thyroid). But other mental health conditions that can produce symptoms that are similar to those of social anxiety disorder include: 1

  • Panic attacks or panic disorder , which causes a person to avoid social situations that may cause a panic attack.
  • Avoidant personality disorder , which may be a more severe form of social anxiety disorder.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder , which may cause a person to avoid public places due to specific fears, such as fear of germs.
  • Agoraphobia , which often occurs with panic disorder and causes intense fear of not being able to escape from a public place or situation.
  • Depression . This commonly occurs with social anxiety disorder. Depression alone can sometimes cause social withdrawal due to lack of interest or pleasure in the company of others.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder, which causes excessive worry or anxiety and distress that is difficult to control.

Shyness, performance anxiety, and stage fright are common and should not be confused with social anxiety disorder if the anxiety experienced does not interfere with daily activities.



  1. American Psychiatric Association (2000). Anxiety disorders. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text rev., pp. 450–456. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised July 11, 2011

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