Do you have Social Anxiety Disorder, or Social Phobia?

This Social Anxiety Disorder (Social phobia) page is an abridged version of the DSM-IV Criteria.

(The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) is a guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders in the United States.)

Please note:
This page about Social Anxiety Disorder has been included for information purposes only - as a guideline to diagnosis- and although these criteria are displayed to provide a guideline to diagnosis they cannot substitute a visit to a doctor or mental health practitioner.

One more thing:
A "diagnosis" is merely a label .
It does not define you as a person.

Be very aware of the power of Labelling- see my pages on the need for certainty and The Power of Language (coming soon- subscribe to my RSS feed to get it as soon as it's available).


A. A marked and persistent fear of one or more social and 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.

Exposure to the feared social situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a situationally bound or predisoposed Panic Attack.
Note: In children, the anxiety may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or shrinking from social situations with unfamiliar people.

The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable.
Note: In children, this feature may be absent.

The feared social or performance situation are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety or distress.

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.

In individuals under age 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months.

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).

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.

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