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Anxiety disorders are the most common type of psychiatric disorders in the United States. The lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders among American adults is 28.8%.

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is the most common anxiety disorder; it has an early age of onset?by age 11 years in about 50% and by age 20 years in about 80% of individuals that have the diagnosis?and it is a risk factor for subsequent depressive illness and substance abuse. The 12-month prevalence estimate of social anxiety disorder for the United States is approximately 7%.

According to two major studies in the United States?the Epidemiological Catchment Area (ECA) study and the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS) study ?in conjunction with other studies, the estimated lifetime prevalence rates for individual anxiety disorders are 2.3-2.7% for panic disorder, 4.1-6.6% for generalized anxiety disorder, and 2.6-13.3% for social phobia.

Further, the NCS reported the following lifetime (and 30-day) prevalence estimates: 6.7% (and 2.3%) for agoraphobia, 11.3% (and 5.5%) for simple (ie, specific) phobia, and 13.3% (and 4.5%) for social phobia.

The prevalence of specific anxiety disorders appears to vary between countries and cultures. A cross-national study of the prevalence of panic disorder found lifetime prevalence rates ranging from 0.4% in Taiwan to 2.9% in Italy. The median prevalence of social anxiety disorder in Europe is 2.3%.

In some Far East cultures, individuals with social anxiety disorder may develop fears of being offensive to others rather than fears of being embarrassed. In Japan and Korea, this syndrome is referred to as taijin kyofusho.

The ECA study found no difference in rates of panic disorder among white, African American, or Hispanic populations in the United States.

The female-to-male ratio for any lifetime anxiety disorder is 3:2.

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