Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental disorders. It usually begins in the early to midteens, although it can sometimes begin earlier in childhood or in adulthood.

A number of factors can increase the risk of developing social anxiety disorder, including:

  • Being female. Females are more likely than males to have social anxiety disorder.
  • Family history. You're more likely to develop social anxiety disorder if your biological parents or siblings have the condition.
  • Environment. Social anxiety disorder may be a learned behavior. That is, you may develop the condition after witnessing the anxious behavior of others. In addition, there may be an association between social anxiety disorder and parents who are more controlling or protective of their children.
  • Temperament. Children who are shy, timid, withdrawn or restrained when facing new situations or people may be at greater risk.
  • New social or work demands. Meeting new people, giving a speech in public or making an important work presentation may trigger social anxiety disorder symptoms for the first time. These symptoms usually have their roots in adolescence, however.
  • Having a health condition that draws attention. Facial disfigurement, stuttering, Parkinson's disease and other health conditions can increase feelings of self-consciousness and may trigger social anxiety disorder in some people.
Aug. 23, 2011

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