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Summary: One-fifth of Teens Suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder

Nearly one-fifth of the nationís teens are suffering from emotional disorders. About 15% of adolescents face social anxiety disorder (SAD), which has a strong genetic link. Some of the triggers that lead to SAD are 1) overly critical and controlling parents, 2) peer rejection, 3) being bullied or teased, and 4) a traumatic social situation.

  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a common anxiety disorder characterized by an individual's high concern about other's perceptions and a tendency to avoid feared situations. Despite being one of the most prevalent disorders of childhood and adolescence, SAD stands as one of the least recognized, researched and treated pediatric disorders. The mean age of onset of SAD is around 15 years old but shyness or behavioral inhibition, which are known to be preludes to SAD, have been evident around age 2. About 15% of adolescents face social anxiety disorder (SAD), which has a strong genetic link. Children with SAD, are inhibited, fearful, and uneasy around novel situations and people. Adolescents with SAD, however, may externalize the disorder through fighting and antisocial behavior. SAD has been proven difficult to diagnose at this stage because adolescence is a critical stage for identity formation and social skill development and it is often difficult to distinguish between normal and pathological fears. Some of the triggers that lead to SAD are 1) parents who are overly critical, emotionally distant and overprotective, 2) rejection, 3) being bullied or teased and 4) a traumatic social situation. Individuals that reach adulthood with SAD have difficult achieving milestones such as dating, getting a job, getting an education, and living independently. More research remains to be done regarding the diagnosis and treatment of SAD in children and adolescents.1

1 Social Anxiety Disorder in Childhood and Adolescence: Current Status and Future Directions, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, Vol. 4, No.1, 2001.

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