The epidemiology of social anxiety disorder in the United States: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions

J Clin Psychiatry. 2005 Nov;66(11):1351-61. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v66n1102.


Objective: To present nationally representative data on 12-month and lifetime prevalence, correlates and comorbidity of social anxiety disorder (SAD) among adults in the United States as determined by the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

Design: Face-to-face survey.

Setting: The United States.

Participants: Adults (aged 18 and over) residing in households and group quarters (N = 43,093).

Main outcome measures: Prevalence and associations of SAD with sociodemographic and psychiatric correlates and Axis I and II disorders.

Results: The prevalence of 12-month and lifetime DSM-IV SAD was 2.8% (95% CI = 2.5 to 3.1) and 5.0% (95% CI = 4.6 to 5.4), respectively. Being Native American, being young, or having low income increased risk, while being male, being of Asian, Hispanic, or black race/ethnicity, or living in urban or more populated regions reduced risk. Mean age at onset of SAD was 15.1 years, with a mean duration of 16.3 years. Over 80% of individuals with SAD received no treatment, and the mean age at first treatment was 27.2 years. Current and lifetime SAD were significantly related to other specific psychiatric disorders, most notably generalized anxiety, bipolar I, and avoidant and dependent personality disorders. The mean number of feared social situations among individuals with SAD was 7.0, with the majority reporting anxiety in performance situations.

Conclusions: Social anxiety disorder was associated with substantial unremitting course and extremely early age at onset. Social anxiety disorder often goes untreated, underscoring the need for health care initiatives geared toward increasing recognition and treatment. Comprehensive evaluation of patients with SAD should include a systematic assessment of comorbid disorders, and novel approaches to the treatment of comorbid SAD are needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • United States / epidemiology