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People with social anxiety disorder suffer alone
A study presented in May at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington, DC, found that most individuals with social anxiety disorder wait more than 10 years to seek treatment.
Researchers from the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City examined help-seeking patterns in a sample of people with social anxiety disorder who participated in the 1998 National Anxiety Disorders Screening Day.
A telephone follow-up survey of 200 screening participants who screened positive uncovered the following facts:
• Average delay from anxiety onset to first professional contact for treatment was 12.7 years.
• Average delay to confide in a friend or family member about social anxiety was 7.7 years.
• Most commonly cited reasons for not seeking treatment were:
— uncertainty about where to go for help (46%);
— problems affording treatment or lack of mental health benefits (51%);
— belief that anxiety could be controlled without professional help (21%);
— fear of what others might think (16%).
• Only 20% of patients who sought treatment were diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
• More than half of those who did receive a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder were prescribed medications or received psychotherapy. Of those receiving medication, 70% felt their therapy was helpful in relieving their anxiety. Of those receiving psychotherapy, 86% felt their treatment was helpful in relieving their anxiety.
More than 10 million Americans are affected by social anxiety disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in Washington, DC. In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved paroxetine HCI, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor as the first drug specifically approved for the treatment of social anxiety disorder.
(For more information about social anxiety disorder, see Case Management Advisor, May 1999, p. 81. In addition, the APA has joined the Rockville, MD-based Anxiety Disorders Association of America and the Staten Island, NY-based Freedom From Fear to form the Social Anxiety Disorder Coalition. Information about social anxiety disorder can be found on the coalition’s Web site at www.allergictopeople.com.)