Social trauma and its association with posttraumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder

Andri Bjornsson, Jóhann P. Harðarson, Auður G. Valdimarsdóttir, Karen Guðmundsdóttir, Arnrún Tryggvadóttir, Kristjana A. Þórarinsdóttir, Inga Wessman, Ólafía Sigurjónsdóttir, Sóley Davíðsdóttir, Auður Sjöfn Þórisdóttir

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The key characteristic of a traumatic event as defined by the Diagnostic and Mental Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) seems to be a threat to life. However, evidence suggests that other types of threats may play a role in the development of PTSD and other disorders such as social anxiety disorder (SAD). One such threat is social trauma, which involves humiliation and rejection in social situations. In this study, we explored whether there were differences in the frequency, type and severity of social trauma endured by individuals with a primary diagnosis of SAD (n = 60) compared to a clinical control group of individuals with a primary diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD, n = 19) and a control group of individuals with no psychiatric disorders (n = 60). The results showed that most participants in this study had experienced social trauma. There were no clear differences in the types of experiences between the groups. However, one third of participants in the SAD group (but none in the other groups) met criteria for PTSD or suffered from clinically significant PTSD symptoms in response to their most significant social trauma. This group of SAD patients described more severe social trauma than other participants. This line of research could have implications for theoretical models of both PTSD and SAD, and for the treatment of individuals with SAD suffering from PTSD after social trauma.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages102228
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Other keywords

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Social threat
  • Social trauma
  • Áráttu- og þráhyggjuröskun
  • Félagsfælni
  • Áfallastreita


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