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Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

The American Psychiatric Association’s standard diagnostic manual defines Social Anxiety Disorder, formerly called Social Phobia, as “a marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.  The individual fears that he or she will act in a way that will be humiliating or embarrassing.” The definition of Social Anxiety Disorder also specifies that exposure to the feared social situations almost always provokes anxiety, and that the feared situations are avoided or else endured with intense distress.  Importantly, the definition specifies that the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder interfere significantly with the individual’s normal life activities and relationships, including getting an education and making a living.

Historically Under-Diagnosed

Only in recent years have researchers and mental health professionals come to realize how serious this disorder can be, and how many people are impacted.  It is sometimes called “the hidden anxiety disorder,” because it hides behind other conditions, such as Depression, Panic Disorder, Alcohol Dependence, and Substance Abuse.  When Social Anxiety Disorder is not discovered and treated, the treatment for these other conditions frequently fails to work, because for many people, the Social Anxiety Disorder has led to the other conditions.

Key Points:

It is under-recognized and therefore under-treated It is highly prevalent in the general population (7-12%) It is chronic unless treated For the more serious forms, severe disability can result

Effective Treatment is Available

The tragedy of Social Anxiety Disorder is that despite the serious distress and suffering it can cause, many people do not know that effective treatment is now available, and therefore go untreated.

My Interest

I have a special passion for working with people suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder.  While working at Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center, I developed the first treatment program specifically for Social Anxiety Disorder at the Santa Rosa Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, and one of the earliest in Kaiser’s Northern California Region.  I was a participant in Kaiser’s Regional “Best Practices Committee”, which developed group treatment guidelines for Social Anxiety Disorder within Kaiser's Northern California region, and worked closely with the committee's chair, Dr. Elke Zuercher-White.

Treatment Options

I offer individual treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder in the Portland area. In cases where my evaluation suggests that group treatment is preferable, I refer people to Dr. Zuercher-White's excellent program, which is quite unique in the Portland/Vancouver area.

Consultations & Presentations

I am available for individual consultation to clinicians, as well as presentations to groups of mental health professions or the public.  These services help groups of mental health professionals increase their early identification of Social Anxiety Disorder, become informed about appropriate treatments, and improve their clinical outcomes, especially where Social Anxiety Disorder is contributing to secondary depression, substance dependence, and other conditions that appear to resist treatment.  Most importantly, the information in these presentations can help reduce suffering in an under-served clinical population.
Social Anxiety
Licensed Clinical Psychologist Help for Social Anxiety