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Overview of Panic and Social Anxiety Disorders

Herman G. M. Westenberg, PhD, and Michael R. Liebowitz, MD

Published: December 15, 2004

Article Abstract

Panic disorder and social anxiety disorder are often-overlooked but debilitating disorders thatshare some common symptoms and treatments. Patients with panic disorder experience unexpectedpanic attacks and then worry about having more attacks. Those with social anxiety disorder fear doingor saying something embarrassing in social situations. The prevalence of these conditions is about 3%for panic disorder and 13% for social anxiety disorder in the United States and is higher in womenthan in men. Both disorders are thought to have a familial link and to be related to dysregulationof neurotransmitter systems. Panic and social anxiety disorders are often comorbid with other psychiatricdisorders. Medication treatment and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy might need to be continuedover the long term to prevent relapse.

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