How common is social phobia?
Social phobia is one of the most common anxiety disorders. The US National Comorbidity Survey (NCS), for instance, estimated that 13.3% of Americans will experience it at some point during their life. The NCS’s follow-up study, the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCSR), found that 6.8% of those questioned had suffered from social phobia in the previous twelve months. When the NCSR analysed the severity of those cases, the 6.8% figure broke down into roughly equal thirds for ’serious’, ’moderate’, and ’mild’. But these are relative terms: even ’mild’ cases met the criteria for a clinical disorder.
Social phobia normally begins in adolescence. A major US survey found that 9% of young people aged 13—18 had experienced problems at some point in their life, with 1.3% having been severely affected. Like anxiety disorders in general, social phobia is more common in women than men (by a ratio of approximately 3:2).