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Anxiety Disorders in AdultsA Clinical Guide$
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Vladan Starcevic, MD, PhD

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195369250

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195369250.001.0001

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Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

(p.150) Chapter 4 Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
Anxiety Disorders in Adults

Vladan Starcevic, MD, PhD

Oxford University Press

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is conceptualized as an excessive and/or unreasonable fear of situations in which the person’s behavior or appearance might be scrutinized and evaluated. This fear is a consequence of the person’s expectation to be judged negatively, which might lead to embarrassment or humiliation. Typical examples of feared and usually avoided social situations are giving a talk in public, performing other tasks in front of others, and interacting with people in general. Although the existence of SAD as a psychopathological entity has been known for at least 100 years, it was only relatively recently, with the publication of DSM-III in 1980, that SAD (or social phobia) acquired the status of an ‘‘official’’ psychiatric diagnosis. The term social anxiety disorder has been increasingly used instead of social phobia, because it is felt that the use of the former term conveys more strongly the pervasiveness and impairment associated with the condition and that this term will promote better recognition of the disorder and contribute to better differentiation from specific phobia (Liebowitz et al., 2000). Like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder is common and controversial. Unlike generalized anxiety disorder, which is described in different ways by different diagnostic criteria and different researchers and clinicians, SAD does not suffer from a ‘‘description problem.’’ It is not particularly difficult to recognize features of SAD; what may be difficult is making sense of these features. Main issues associated with SAD are listed below…. 1. Where are the boundaries of SAD? How well is SAD distinguished from ‘‘normal’’ social anxiety and shyness on one hand, and from severe psychopathology on the other? 2. Is there a danger of ‘‘pathologizing’’ intense social anxiety by labeling it a psychiatric disorder? How can the distress and suffering of people with high levels of social anxiety be acknowledged if they are not given the corresponding diagnostic label? 3. Is SAD a bona fide mental disorder? 4. Can the subtyping scheme (nongeneralized vs. generalized SAD) be supported? 5. Is there a spectrum of social anxiety disorders?

Keywords:   Amygdala, Behavioral experiments, Cannabis, D-cycloserine, Eating disorders, Fear, Gabapentin, Habituation, Levetiracetam, Moclobemide

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