Social Anxiety Disorder: Comorbidity and Its Implications

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Social anxiety disorder is an extremely common and potentially disabling psychiatric disorder. Generalized social anxiety disorder, a subtype of the disorder, is believed to be the most common and most severe form. It is also the form that is most often associated with other psychiatric disorders. Unless the clinician has a high index of suspicion, social anxiety disorder may remain undetected. The clinical and treatment implications of the most common psychiatric comorbidities associated with social anxiety disorder are discussed in this article, with a focus on major depression, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol abuse/dependence. Other psychiatric disorders and some medical conditions commonly associated with social anxiety disorder are briefly mentioned. Finally, a differential diagnosis of social anxiety disorder is described. Individuals who present for treatment of other anxiety disorders, mood disorders, or alcohol/substance abuse disorders should be considered at risk for current but undetected social anxiety disorder.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(suppl 1):17-24