Learn About the DSM-5 Criteria Used to Diagnose Social Anxiety Disorder
Are you interested in learning about the social anxiety disorder DSM-5 criteria used to diagnose social anxiety disorder?
The social anxiety disorder diagnostic criteria can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) fifth edition. This is a manual used by mental health professionals to identify mental disorders.
While this book isn’t something that you would have access to in the general public, you might be curious about what “rules” your doctor or other mental health professional is using to make a diagnosis.
What I’d like to do is to list the “rules” or criteria as they appear in the DSM-5, and then explain anything that might not be easy to understand.
Social anxiety disorder (previously known as social phobia) is grouped with other anxiety disorders in the DSM-5, such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. The social anxiety disorder DSM-5 criteria are in Section 300.23 on pages 202-203 of the DSM-5 and are as follows (I am paraphrasing).
Social Anxiety Disorder DSM-5 Criteria
Fear or Anxiety
- You must have significant fear or anxiety about one or more social situations where you might be scrutinized by other people, such as conversations, meeting new people, eating in front of people, or giving a speech. (For children, this fear must happen around other kids and not just when they are with adults)
- You must fear that you will do something or have anxiety symptoms that will make other people judge you in a negative way. In other words, you will become humiliated or embarrassed, and be rejected or offend other people.
- These situations must almost always cause you to have fear or anxiety. (For children, fear may show up as crying, tantrums, freezing, clinging, failing to speak, etc.)
- You either avoid or endure the situations with intense fear or anxiety.
- Your fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat in the situation.
- Your fear or anxiety has lasted for 6 months or longer.
- Your fear or anxiety causes you significant distress in daily life functioning.
- Your fear or anxiety is not due to medication, substance abuse, or a medical condition.
- Your fear or anxiety is not better explained by another mental disorder.
- If you have a medical condition (e.g., Parkinson’s disease), your fear or anxiety is unrelated or is excessive.
- Note: performance only type is assigned if only public speaking or performing is feared.
Understanding the Social Anxiety Disorder DSM-5 Criteria
Your mental health professional must be able to check off each item on the above list (A–J) before making a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder. You must have fear or anxiety about social or performance situations, fear that you will embarrass yourself, and almost always experience intense anxiety in those situations or avoid them altogether.
The anxiety must be out of proportion to the actual threat, have lasted for 6 months or more, and cause you distress in your life.
Finally, the anxiety can’t be the result of a substance, explained by another disorder, or be reasonable given a medical condition. If you experience anxiety only in performance situations you will be given the “performance only” specifier.
(Watch the video below to hear more detailed information about the social anxiety disorder DSM-5 criteria from Dr. Todd Grande.)
The social anxiety disorder DSM-5 criteria also list some features associated with social anxiety disorder. These include lack of assertiveness, rigid body posture, poor eye contact, or an overly soft voice. Individuals with social anxiety disorder may share little about themselves, seek jobs with little social contact, and live with their parents for a longer period of time.
The social anxiety disorder DSM-5 criteria indicate that men with the disorder may take longer to get married and have a family and women who would want to work outside the home would instead be homemakers or mothers. Incidentally—I am not sure if this is based on statistical data (I assume/hope so) as there is no citation, but it seems a bit gender stereotypical.
I assume that in general, the statement “persons with SAD might take longer to get married, have a family, and may avoid taking work outside the home that involves social obligations” would be appropriate.
The social anxiety disorder DSM-5 criteria indicate that people with the disorder are also more likely to self-medicate with substances such as alcohol.