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Keywords:

  • anxiety disorders;
  • children;
  • classification;
  • diagnosis;
  • diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders;
  • DSM-5

Background

The current proposal for the DSM-5 definition of social anxiety disorder (SAD) is to replace the DSM-IV generalized subtype specifier with one that specifies fears in performance situations only. Relevant evaluations to support this change in youth samples are sparse.

Methods

The present study examined rates and correlates of the DSM-IV and proposed DSM-5 specifiers in a sample of treatment-seeking children and adolescents with SAD (N = 204).

Results

When applying DSM-IV subtypes, 64.2% of the sample was classified as having a generalized subtype of SAD, with the remaining 35.2% classifying as having a nongeneralized subtype SAD. Youth with generalized SAD, relative to those with nongeneralized SAD, were older, had more clinically severe SAD, showed greater depressive symptoms, and were more likely to have a comorbid depressive disorder. No children in the current sample endorsed discrete fear in performance situations only in the absence of fear in other social situations.

Conclusions

The present findings call into question the meaningfulness of the proposed changes in treatment-seeking youth with SAD.