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Social anxiety disorder: A review of environmental risk factors

Authors Brook CA, Schmidt LA

Published 8 February 2008 Volume 2008:4(1) Pages 123—143

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S1799


Christina A Brook, Louis A Schmidt

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Abstract: Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a debilitating and chronic illness characterized by persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations, with a relatively high lifetime prevalence of 7% to 13% in the general population. Although the last two decades have witnessed enormous growth in the study of biological and dispositional factors underlying SAD, comparatively little attention has been directed towards environmental factors in SAD, even though there has been much ongoing work in the area. In this paper, we provide a recent review and critique of proposed environmental risk factors for SAD, focusing on traditional as well as some understudied and overlooked environmental risk factors: parenting and family environment, adverse life events, cultural and societal factors, and gender roles. We also discuss the need for research design improvements and considerations for future directions.

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