Diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) may be hard to diagnose because it is similar to other anxiety disorders. There are no tests to detect SAD. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked how long you have had symptoms, when they started, and how long they last. The doctor may think you have SAD based on how you answer.

The American Psychiatric Association uses certain lists to diagnose SAD.

You must have these for 6 months or more:

  • Fear of social settings or situations
  • Fear that you will face harsh criticism by others
  • Fear of doing something humiliating or embarrassing
  • Anxiety in social settings that is an overreaction

A hard time with daily activity, which includes problems with:

  • Normal routine
  • Work
  • School
  • Social relationships


Special screening tests may be given. These tests don’t provide all the answers, but they can find other mental health issues that may need treatment. Many people with SAD also have:

Your doctor may do lab tests to rule out other causes for your health problems.



Social anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. http://www.dynamed.... Updated September 21, 2018. Accessed February 27, 2019.
Social anxiety disorder: More than just shyness. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml. Accessed February 27, 2019.
Social phobia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/anxiety-and-stressor-related-disorders/social-phobia. Updated July 2018. Accessed February 27, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 2/27/2019

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.