Gastric bypass surgery: Weight can lead to social anxiety disorder

1st July 2011

Obese people with social anxiety related to being overweight may experience anxiety as severe as that caused by social anxiety disorder (SAD), according to a new study.

Research conducted at Rhode Island Hospital and detailed in the journal Depression and Anxiety studied a number of individuals hoping to have bariatric surgery, a number of whom had been diagnosed with SAD, some of whom were classed as "modified SAD" and some who had no history of psychiatric disorders.

The study found that both the SAD and modified SAD groups were rated as having poor social function as adolescents and over the past five years compared with the no disorder group.

Individuals in the modified SAD group reported experiencing more disruption to their social life in the past month than the SAD group, which lead researcher Dr Kristy Dalrymple said was "interesting".

"It could be that for individuals in which anxiety is related only to obesity, the change in social life functioning is more recent due to weight changes, and therefore, more distressing than for individuals who have experienced more generalised forms of social anxiety over a longer period of time," she added.

According to official figures, around one in four UK adults are obese.

Posted by Edward Bartel

1 Kristy L. Dalrymple, Janine Galione, Joshua Hrabosky, Iwona Chelminski, Diane Young, Erin O'Brien, Mark Zimmerman. Diagnosing social anxiety disorder in the presence of obesity: implications for a proposed change in DSM-5. Depression and Anxiety, 2011

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