Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Font Size

Who Is Affected by Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder usually emerges during childhood or early adolescence and rarely after age 25.1 It is a common condition that affects around 13% of the general population, with about one-third of those having a single fear of public speaking.2

Women are more likely to develop social anxiety disorder than men. The condition may run in families, although it is unclear whether this is due to a genetic disorder or to learned behavior. More than half of those with social anxiety disorder will become disabled by intense fear of and anxiety over numerous social situations.

Recommended Related to Anxiety Panic

Understanding Phobias -- Treatment

How well phobia treatment will work depends partly on the severity of the phobia. Though some phobias are never completely cured, therapy can help many people learn to function effectively. Types of therapy include:  Desensitization Flooding Graded exposures Biofeedback  Attending phobia clinics and support groups has also helped many people overcome their fears.   In addition, medication may help some people overcome their phobia.  Therapies for Phobia For specific phobias,...

Read the Understanding Phobias -- Treatment article > >

Depression commonly occurs with social anxiety disorder, which makes it harder to treat. Some people may use alcohol or drugs to relieve symptoms of social anxiety disorder. This may possibly lead to substance abuse problems.


  1. Zal HM (2003). Social phobia: Diagnostic issues. Psychiatric Times, 20(5): 75–77.

  2. Hollander E, Simeon D (2008). Social phobia (Social anxiety disorder). In RE Hales et al., eds., American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry, 5th ed., pp. 536–546. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised July 11, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 11, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Understanding Anxiety Prevention
Unhappy couple
Couple walking outdoors
Man texting
Phobias frightened eyes
Stressed businessman
Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
Quit Smoking
Teen with OCD
Too Scared Social Anxiety Disorder