Age of onset in social anxiety disorder: Relation to clinical variables and major depression comorbidity

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The aim of this study was to determine the rates of early-and late-onset social anxiety disorder (SAD) and to investigate the effects of onset time on clinical characteristics and the course of SAD.

METHODS:

A total of 377 patients with SAD were assessed using a sociodemographic data form, the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF). Three hundred patients with SAD onset before age 18 were classified as members of the early-onset group, whereas 77 patients with SAD onset at age ≥18 comprised the late-onset group. The 2 groups were compared in terms of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, comorbidity, and scale scores.

RESULTS:

The rate of SAD onset before age 18 was 79.6%. Compared with the late-onset group, the early-onset group had a younger age at first depressive episode, higher rate of atypical depression, higher LSAS and BDI scores, and lower GAF scores.

CONCLUSIONS:

In cases of early onset of SAD, symptom severity of both SAD and comorbid depression increased and functionality decreased. It is important to assess and treat SAD patients at a younger age because earlyonset SAD may be associated with a more severe course and higher rate of major depression comorbidity.

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