The formal diagnosis of social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, rests on these symptoms, which can be evaluated by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
Symptoms of Social Phobia
According to the DSM, “The essential feature of Social Phobia is a marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which embarrassment may occur” (p. 450). The following specific diagnostic criteria are reproduced verbatim (except for codings and page references) from the DSM-IV TR (where ‘IV TR’ indicates fourth edition, text revision), page 456.
Diagnostic Criteria for Social Phobia
A. A marked or persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be humiliating or embarrassing. Note: In children, there must be evidence of the capacity for age-appropriate social relationships with familiar people and the anxiety must occur in peer settings, not just in interactions with adults.
B. Exposure to the feared social situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a situationally bound or situationally predisposed Panic Attack. Note: In children, the anxiety may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or shrinking from social situations with unfamiliar people.
C. The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. Note: In children, this feature may be absent.
D. The feared social or performance situations are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety or distress.
E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.
F. In individuals under age 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months.
G. The fear or avoidance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition and is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., Panic Disorder With or Without Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or Schizoid Personality Disorder).
H. If a general medical condition or another mental disorder is present, the fear in Criterion A is unrelated to it, e.g., the fear is not of Stuttering, trembling in Parkinson’s disease, or exhibiting abnormal eating behavior in Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa.
- Anxiety Disorders
- Acute Stress Disorder Symptoms
- Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorder
- Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Other Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
- OCD: Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Attacks and Agoraphobia: Underlying Symptoms
- Panic Disorder Symptoms
- Phobias: Specific Phobia (Simple Phobia) Symptoms
- PTSD: Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder) Symptoms
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