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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1992 Apr;49(4):282-8.

Social phobia. Comorbidity and morbidity in an epidemiologic sample.

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Department of Therapeutics, New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY 10032.


Selected sociodemographic and clinical features of social phobia were assessed in four US communities among more than 13,000 adults from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area study. Rates of social phobia were highest among women and persons who were younger (age, 18 to 29 years), less educated, single, and of lower socioeconomic class. Mean age at onset was 15.5 years, and first onsets after the age of 25 years were uncommon. Lifetime major comorbid disorders were present in 69% of subjects with social phobia and usually had onset after social phobia. When compared with persons with no psychiatric disorder, uncomplicated social phobia was associated with increased rates of suicidal ideation, financial dependency, and having sought medical treatment, but was not associated with higher rates of having made a suicide attempt or having sought treatment from a mental health professional. An increase in suicide attempts was found among subjects with social phobia overall, but this increase was mainly attributable to comorbid cases. Social phobia, in the absence of comorbidity, was associated with distress and impairment, yet was rarely treated by mental health professionals. The findings are compared and contrasted with prior reports from clinical samples.

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