Individuals who are overweight may experience anxiety as severe as individuals with social anxiety disorder, says study.
Researchers from Rhode Island Hospital, led by Kristy Dalrymple, evaluated a group of individuals who were seeking clearance for bariatric surgery.
They identified three separate groups: 135 individuals diagnosed with DSM-IV SAD; 40 individuals classified as "modified SAD" who experienced clinically significant social anxiety related to weight only; and 616 individuals with no history of psychiatric disorders.
In their study, both the SAD and modified SAD groups were rated as having poorer social functioning as an adolescent compared to the no disorder group, but there was no difference between the SAD and modified SAD groups in this respect, with similar results found in social functioning over the past five years.
In addition, the SAD group was rated as having more time out of work in the past five years due to psychopathology or emotional reasons compared to both the modified SAD group and the no disorder group.
Results also showed that those in the modified SAD group experienced more disruption in their social life and were more distressed about having social anxiety in the past month compared to those in the SAD group.
"We found it particularly interesting that the modified SAD group reported greater levels of disruption in social life and distress about their social anxiety compared to the DSM-IV SAD group. This suggests that although our modified SAD group had social anxiety that was related to obesity only, their level of impairment was significant," said Dalrymple.
The researchers state that these findings, combined with others in their study, lead to the conclusion that obese individuals who have weight-related social anxiety experience significant social anxiety when compared to individuals with DSM-IV SAD.
The study was recently published online in advance of print in the journal Depression and Anxiety. (ANI)