Social anxiety disorder: a common, underrecognized mental disorder

Am Fam Physician. 1999 Nov 15;60(8):2311-20, 2322.


Social phobia is a highly prevalent yet often overlooked psychiatric disorder that can cause severe disability but fortunately has shown responsiveness to specific pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Recognition of its essential clinical features and the use of brief, targeted screening questions can improve detection within family practice settings. Cognitive behavioral therapy, with or without specific antidepressant therapy, is the evidence-based treatment of choice for most patients. Adjunctive use of benzodiazepines can facilitate the treatment response of patients who need initial symptom relief. The use of beta blockers as needed has been found to be helpful in the treatment of circumscribed social and performance phobias. Treatment planning should consider the patient's preference, the severity of presenting symptoms, the degree of functional impairment, psychiatric and substance-related comorbidity, and long-term treatment goals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Family Practice
  • Humans
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Phobic Disorders / drug therapy
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy*
  • Physician's Role
  • Prevalence
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Teaching Materials


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Benzodiazepines