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Who Is Affected by Social Anxiety Disorder?


Social anxiety disorder usually emerges during childhood or early adolescence and rarely after age 25. 1 It is a common condition that affects around 13% of the general population, with about one-third of those having a single fear of public speaking. 2

Women are more likely to develop social anxiety disorder than men. The condition may run in families, although it is unclear whether this is due to a genetic disorder or to learned behavior. More than half of those with social anxiety disorder will become disabled by intense fear of and anxiety over numerous social situations.

Depression commonly occurs with social anxiety disorder, which makes it harder to treat. Some people may use alcohol or drugs to relieve symptoms of social anxiety disorder. This may possibly lead to substance abuse problems.



  1. Zal HM (2003). Social phobia: Diagnostic issues. Psychiatric Times, 20(5): 75–77.
  2. Hollander E, Simeon D (2008). Social phobia (Social anxiety disorder). In RE Hales et al., eds., American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry, 5th ed., pp. 536–546. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.


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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