Gender differences in social anxiety disorder: A review

Clin Psychol Rev. 2017 Aug:56:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2017.05.004. Epub 2017 May 30.


Gender differences in social anxiety disorder (SAD) have not received much empirical attention despite the large body of research on the disorder, and in contrast to significant literature about gender differences in other disorders such as depression or posttraumatic stress disorder. To address this gap, we comprehensively reviewed the literature regarding gender differences in eight domains of SAD: prevalence, clinical presentation, functioning and impairment, comorbidity, course, treatment seeking, physiological arousal, and the oxytocin system. Findings from the present review indicate that women are more likely to have SAD and report greater clinical severity. Notwithstanding, men with the disorder may seek treatment to a greater extent. According to the present review, the course of SAD seems to be similar for men and women, and findings regarding gender differences in functional impairment and comorbidity are inconclusive. We highlight areas requiring future research and discuss the findings in the context of a number of theoretical perspectives. We believe that further research and integration of scientific findings with existing theories is essential in order to increase our understanding and awareness of gender differences in SAD, thus facilitating gender-sensitive and specifically-tailored interventions for both men and women with the disorder.

Keywords: Gender differences; Impairment; Prevalence; Review; Social anxiety disorder.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Phobia, Social / epidemiology
  • Phobia, Social / physiopathology*
  • Sex Characteristics*