Nosological status of social phobia: contrasting classical and recent literature

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Purpose of review

The aim of this review is to contrast classical and recent literature relating to social anxiety disorder in the context of its past, present and future position in classification systems.

Recent findings

Social phobia is common; it starts early and is chronic and disabling. It runs in families. Social phobia is frequently comorbid with other anxiety, mood and substance use disorders and it often precedes axis I disorders. Concerning neurobiology of social anxiety disorder research is sparse and the results are inconclusive. The data from research on genetics, early environment, temperamental features, cognitive processing, phenomenology and treatment response indicate significant overlap between social phobia and a number of other axis I and axis II disorders (avoidant personality disorder).


The review of the recent findings does not point to the existence of qualitative differences between social phobia and other anxiety and mood disorders. The results of recent research run against the current classification dividing anxiety and mood disorders into discrete categories and support the continuity among them. Taking into account conceptual issues of psychiatric classifications would promote subsequent research that could become a foundation for the development of psychiatric nosology.

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