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Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is among the most common mental disorders on a lifetime basis. Prevalence ranges from 12% to 14% of the population. The hallmark of SAD is the marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations. There is the fear that one will act in a way that will be humiliating or embarrassing. In some cases, exposure to the feared situation may lead to a (cue-induced) panic attack.

Generalized SAD (a subtype) is characterized by fear and/or avoidance of multiple social situations and is the most common form of SAD among patients presenting to a primary health-care provider. The onset is usually in childhood or early adolescence and is believed to stem from genetic as well as environmental factors. Research has shown that parents who have SAD tend to be overprotective and are overly sensitive to social disapproval themselves.

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