Phenomenology and epidemiology of social phobia

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Social phobia is a psychological disorder characterized by the fear of being scrutinized by others and the belief that embarrassment or humiliation will be the result when contact is made with other people. Its point prevalence is believed to be in the range of 5–10%, with the lifetime prevalence being even higher. At least two subtypes of social phobia, discrete and generalized, are seen in clinical samples, with the latter subtype being associated with greater functional impairment. The onset of social phobia is early, usually preceding the onset of comorbid conditions such as major depression or alcohol use disorders. It thus represents a potential tar-gel for early intervention by those who seek to ameliorate the condition and thereby prevent secondary complications.

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