Current Trends in the Understanding and Treatment of Social Phobia in Youth
Social phobia is a common psychiatric problem in children and adolescents that has recently gained serious attention in clinical practice and research. This article describes the clinical presentation of social phobia and reviews several emergent areas of related research to social phobia in children and adolescents. We begin with a summary of research regarding the developmental pathways of childhood social anxiety into social phobia, highlighting normative developmental factors, behavioral inhibition, pathophysiology, genetics, and parenting/environmental factors. This is followed by a critical review of findings from studies providing evidence for and against the existence of subtypes of social phobia. Common comorbid disorders and sequelae of social phobia in children and adolescents are discussed, bringing to attention the critical need for effective treatments, the current status of which is reviewed in the final section. In sum, this review demonstrates that through research in multiple disciplines, scientists are now developing a better understanding of the risk and protective factors of social phobia in children and adolescents, ultimately leading to improvements in primary prevention and intervention efforts for children at serious risk for long-term problems with education, employment, social relationships, and independent adult functioning.
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