Social anxiety disorder can persist for decades: StatsCan study
Canadian Press - October 26, 2004
OTTAWA (CP) - Perhaps everyone gets nervous before an important meeting or social event. But "crippling shyness" has caused an estimated two million Canadians to avoid social encounters or face them with dread at some point in their lives, a Statistics Canada study said Tuesday.
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, begins in adolescence and symptoms can persist for decades. It is a condition where people feel extremely uncomfortable or paralysed in social or work situations because of an intense fear of being scrutinized or embarrassed.
In 2002 about 750,000 Canadians aged 15 or older had symptoms of social anxiety disorder in the past year, the report said.
"These individuals have a higher risk of having major depressive disorder, panic disorder and dependency on illicit drugs and alcohol."
Among individuals with a history of the disorder the average age of onset was 13, and it lasted an average of 20 years.
Women were more likely to have the disorder than men. It was also more prevalent in people who had never married or were divorced or separated, compared with those who were married; and in people in lower-income rather than higher-income households.
In addition, "people with social anxiety disorder tended to report a lower quality of life, as indicated by their negative perceptions of their own health," the report stated.
The study was based on data from the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey, in which 37,000 people across the country were questioned.