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Review Covers Advances in Anxiety Disorder Understanding

Social anxiety disorder deserves more attention, authors conclude

FRIDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- An increasing body of evidence has advanced the understanding of social anxiety disorder as a distinct condition with neurobiological underpinnings, according to a seminar published in the March 29 issue of The Lancet.

Murray B. Stein, M.D., of the University of California San Diego, and a colleague conducted a database search of articles from 1980 to 2007, focusing on studies from the past 10 years but also citing older publications that are well-regarded in psychiatry.

The researchers report that social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder, with 12-month and lifetime prevalence rates of 7.1 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively, and develops in 50 percent of patients by age 11 and in 80 percent by age 20. They also report that functional neuroimaging studies have identified increased activity in amygdala and insula in patients with social anxiety disorder, and that increasing numbers of studies are exploring possible genetic links.

"As psychiatry increasingly becomes a clinical neuroscience, delineation of the underlying endophenotypes associated with social anxiety disorder should be a key focus of research," the authors write. "Additionally, too many patients remain undiagnosed and untreated, and too many do not respond to first-line therapies. Additional research is needed at all levels, from basic science through to health services research, to improve and appropriately implement the management of social anxiety disorder."

Both authors report financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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