Functional impairment in social anxiety disorder

Idan M. Aderka, Stefan G. Hofmann, Angela Nickerson, Haggai Hermesh, Eva Gilboa-Schechtman, Sofi Marom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


The present study examined functional impairment among treatment seekers with social anxiety disorder (SAD). We investigated the effects of diagnostic subtypes of SAD and comorbidity with mood and anxiety disorders on impairment. In addition, we used cluster analysis procedures to empirically identify subgroups of individuals with distinct patterns of impairment. Participants were 216 treatment-seeking individuals with SAD. Clinical interviews were undertaken to determine diagnoses of anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder, and a battery of self-report measures was administered to index symptoms of social anxiety, depression and extent of impairment. Results indicated that individuals with the generalized subtype of SAD had greater impairment in all three life domains compared to individuals with the nongeneralized subtype. Comorbidity with mood disorders was associated with greater impairment than SAD alone, but comorbidity with anxiety disorders was not. Four distinct impairment profiles emerged from the cluster analysis: primary work/studies impairment, primary social life impairment, both work/studies and social impairment, and impairment in all domains. Findings from this study suggest that SAD is associated with substantial impairment across multiple domains, and that individuals with SAD present diverse impairment profiles. These profiles may inform subtyping of the disorder as well as therapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-400
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Hofmann is supported by NIMH grant R01MH078308 for studies unrelated to the present investigation.


  • Comorbidity
  • Impairment
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Subtypes


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