by Preda A

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. . Updated September 21, 2018. Accessed February 27, 2019.

Social anxiety disorder: More than just shyness. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Accessed February 27, 2019.

Social phobia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated July 2018. Accessed February 27, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2018
  • Update Date: 02/27/2019