The Guardian

I’ve had social anxiety disorder – and know you don’t have to live with it | Kamran Ahmed

Research showing popular kids become more socially anxious adults may illuminate the condition’s origins. But what sufferers actually need is help• Kamran Ahmed is a psychiatrist and film-maker
‘It can affect every aspect of life from work to everyday activities and relationships, but despite the distress it causes, rates of seeking help for this problem are low.’ Photograph: Newscast Online/Time to Change

A fascinating study from the University of Virginia has shed new light on the much-ignored problem of social anxiety. In 169 adolescents assessed at the age of 15 and followed up for 10 years, the researchers found a strong relationship between close friendships in adolescence and fewer social anxiety symptoms at age 25. On the other hand, in adolescence “peer affiliation preference” – or popularity, as most of us call it – was found to predict more social anxiety symptoms in adulthood.

So why do popular kids, who we might reasonably

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