DSM-5 Criteria for Social Anxiety Disorder

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Sam’s Diagnosis/DSM-5 Criteria

Sam has struggled to engage in conversations with others, and experiences anxiety on days that he must present in class. Nolen-Hoeksema (2014) defines social anxiety disorder as when individuals experience severe anxiety in social situations where they become preoccupied to find ways to avoid the social situation (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2014).

Looking at the DSM-5 criteria, Sam fits several of the symptoms. The APA (2013) states that an individual experiences fear or anxiety in a social setting where they would likely feel judged (APA, 2013). Sam experiences that anxiety any time that he must present a presentation in his class. Another key symptom of this disorder is that social situations encourages fear or anxiety (APA, 2013). Sam experiences being embarrassed and nervous whenever he is in a situation where he must speak in front of others. Sam also might fit the criteria for the anxiety to be out of proportion to the threat of the situation, but that is hard to know just based on the case study.

Information Needed

The learner would want to know more about Sam’s adjustment to his new school. She needs more information to see if his reaction to classmates is warranted or not. Has Sam been bullied at his old school? What has Sam’s experience been like at his old school and his new school?

Examples of Medication

National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) (2016) says that benzodiazepines are the most common type of medication used to treat anxiety disorders (NIH, 2016). It is not the main medication used for social anxiety disorder, but it can be used.

A benefit of benzodiazepines is that they can help alleviate some of the anxiety is feeling. On the other hand, there are side effects such as nausea or blurred vision that could affect Sam. The learner would be concerned about the risk of addiction (specifically tolerance) associated with benzodiazepines.

Larger Social System

When assessing and diagnosing Sam, it is important to consider the level of difficulty it was for Sam to adjust to a new school with a different cultural demographic. He might feel like an outsider because he went from being a part of the majority to being in the minority at his new school. It would be helpful to help Sam process what it would be like to be in the majority and in the minority.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (5th ed). Retrieved from: Capella

N.A. (2016). Mental health medications. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from: Capella

Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2014). Abnormal Psychology. (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "DSM-5 Criteria for Social Anxiety Disorder," in PsychologyDictionary.org, July 28, 2017, https://psychologydictionary.org/psychopath-unit-dsm-5-criteria/ (accessed September 28, 2022).