Background: Social phobia may seriously impair the functioning of affected individuals. It is frequently associated with other mental disorders.
Aims: To estimate the co-occurrence of social phobia with major depressive disorder (MDD) and to analyze their interaction.
Method: Subjects were 18,980 individuals, aged 15 years or older, representative of the general population of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, who were interviewed by telephone. DSM-IV diagnoses were made with the Sleep-EVAL system.
Results: The point prevalence for social phobia was 4.4% (95% confidence interval: 4.1-4.7%) of the sample. It was higher in women (odds ratio: 1.6) and decreased with age. MDDs were found in 19.5% of participants with social phobia. Co-occurrence of another anxiety disorder was high and increased when a MDD was present (65.2%). The odds of developing a major depressive episode 2 years after the appearance of the social phobia was of 5.74.
Conclusions: Social phobia is highly prevalent in the general population. It increases the risk of developing a MDD and has a high comorbidity with other mental disorders. Social phobia is often present in the course of depression, more obviously during remission period of MDD. Physicians must explore and treat more systematically this frequent pathology.
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