Social anxiety disorder comorbid with schizophrenia: The importance of screening for this underrecognized and undertreated condition

Katherine Moss Lowengrub, Rafael Stryjer, Moshe Birger, Iulian Iancu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: While the presence of comorbid anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder have been well described in schizophrenia, comorbid social anxiety disorder (SAD) has been less emphasized. The goal of this study was to examine the prevalence of SAD in our ambulatory population of patients with schizophrenia. Methods: A group of 50 outpatients with schizophrenia randomly selected from our public mental health outpatient population was evaluated with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID)-schizophrenia section, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), the Schizophrenia Quality of Life Scale (SQLS), the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS) and the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale (GAF). After completion of assessments, a retrospective chart review was conducted on all study patients who met criteria for a diagnosis of SAD in order to determine how many of these patients had been previously given a diagnosis of SAD. Results: Based on a cutoff score of 29/30 on the total LSAS score, 38% of our sample had a comorbid diagnosis of SAD. Compared to patients who did not suffer from comorbid SAD, patients with schizophrenia and comorbid SAD had lower ratings of quality of life, but similar GAF and PANSS scores. According to the results of the chart review, none of the affected patients had been previously diagnosed with SAD. Conclusions: According to the results of our study, SAD as a comorbid condition is highly prevalent in schizophrenia and may be under-detected in the outpatient mental health care setting. Furthermore, the presence of SAD may lead to a decreased quality of life for patients with schizophrenia. Further studies should evaluate whether the diagnosis and treatment of comorbid SAD would improve the treatment and quality of life of patients with schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-46
Number of pages7
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Volume52
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015

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