Comorbidity and social phobia: evidence from clinical, epidemiologic, and genetic studies

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1995;244(6):297-303. doi: 10.1007/BF02190407.


This paper reviews evidence from clinical, epidemiologic, and family studies regarding the association between social phobia and other syndromes. Social phobia is strongly associated with other anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and affective disorders in both clinical and community samples. An average of 80% of social phobics identified in community samples meet diagnostic criteria for another lifetime condition. Social phobia is most strongly associated with other subtypes of anxiety disorders, with an average of 50% of social phobics in the community reporting a concomitant anxiety disorder including another phobic disorder, generalized anxiety, or panic disorder. Approximately 20% of subjects in the community meet lifetime criteria for a major depressive disorder. The onset of social phobia generally precedes that of all other disorders, with the exception of simple phobia. Both clinical severity and treated prevalence are consistently greater among social phobics with comorbid disorders. The results of family and twin studies reveal that shared etiologic factors explain a substantial proportion of the comorbidity between social phobia and depression, whereas the association between social phobia and alcoholism derives from a nonfamilial causal relationship between the two conditions. Clinical and phenomenologic implications of these findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / genetics
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / genetics
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / genetics
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Phobic Disorders / genetics
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics
  • Switzerland / epidemiology