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Keywords:

  • DSM-V;
  • social anxiety disorder;
  • social phobia;
  • subtypes;
  • classification;
  • interpersonal;
  • performance;
  • test anxiety;
  • selective mutism;
  • avoidant personality disorder

Abstract

Background: This review evaluates the DSM-IV criteria of social anxiety disorder (SAD), with a focus on the generalized specifier and alternative specifiers, the considerable overlap between the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for SAD and avoidant personality disorder, and developmental issues. Method: A literature review was conducted, using the validators provided by the DSM-V Spectrum Study Group. This review presents a number of options and preliminary recommendations to be considered for DSM-V. Results/Conclusions: Little supporting evidence was found for the current specifier, generalized SAD. Rather, the symptoms of individuals with SAD appear to fall along a continuum of severity based on the number of fears. Available evidence suggested the utility of a specifier indicating a “predominantly performance” variety of SAD. A specifier based on “fear of showing anxiety symptoms” (e.g., blushing) was considered. However, a tendency to show anxiety symptoms is a core fear in SAD, similar to acting or appearing in a certain way. More research is needed before considering subtyping SAD based on core fears. SAD was found to be a valid diagnosis in children and adolescents. Selective mutism could be considered in part as a young child's avoidance response to social fears. Pervasive test anxiety may belong not only to SAD, but also to generalized anxiety disorder. The data are equivocal regarding whether to consider avoidant personality disorder simply a severe form of SAD. Secondary data analyses, field trials, and validity tests are needed to investigate the recommendations and options. Depression and Anxiety, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.