Social Anxiety Disorder in Adults – Practical Clinical Guidance for Diagnosis and Management

Posted on:January 16, 2022
Last Updated: November 24, 2023
Time to read: 10 minutes

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterised by an intense social discomfort of being negatively evaluated or judged by other people.

Individuals believe that their fear is making them act so that other people will be offended by—as such, their fear of social inappropriateness results in avoidance behaviours and impaired social functioning. [APA 2013]

  • Up to 8.4% of people are suggested to meet SAD criteria over 12 months.
  • SAD is more common in women than in men (1.2- to 1.5-fold) and is more common in separated, divorced, or never-married individuals.
  • The median age of onset is 13 years, and there is a lifetime prevalence of 12 to 30%. [Demertzis and Craske 2006]
  • Individuals with SAD have reported that SAD affected life functioning on average 4.7 days per year.
  • Adolescents and young adults with SAD and impaired social functioning are also at a clinically higher risk of psychosis in later life. [Rietdijk et al. 2013]
  • Only 20 to 40% of patients diagnosed with SAD will recover within 20 years of onset. [Ruscio et al. 2008]

SAD is a chronic disorder of substantial distress, disability, and impairment that negatively impacts educational and occupational performance.

Social functioning, including the development of relationships, is considerably impaired, resulting in social isolation and poor quality of life. [Stein and Kean, 2000]; [Patel et al 2002]

We previously covered Generalised Anxiety Disorder – Diagnosis and Management