Social Anxiety Disorder Related Conditions Comorbidities in Mental Health By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." Learn about our editorial process Updated on April 09, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Comorbidity means having more than one diagnosis. Getty / DrAfter123 Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Prevalence Treatment Challenges Prevention Comorbidities are more than one disorder in the same person. For example, if a person is diagnosed with both social anxiety disorder (SAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), they are said to have comorbid (meaning co-existing) anxiety and depressive disorders. Other comorbid conditions include physical ailments such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, and dementia. Mental health conditions that tend to show comorbidity include eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse. The term comorbidity was coined in the 1970s by A.R. Feinstein, a renowned American doctor and epidemiologist. Feinstein demonstrated comorbidity through the example of how people with rheumatic fever also usually suffered from multiple other diseases. Since that time, comorbidity has come to be associated with the presence of multiple mental or physical health conditions in the same person. Prevalence of Comorbidities It's not uncommon for people to be diagnosed with two disorders or conditions at once. Comorbidity in mental illness can include a situation where a person receives a medical diagnosis that is followed by the diagnosis of a mental disorder (or vice versa), or it can involve the diagnosis of a mental disorder that is followed by the diagnosis of another mental disorder. A large, cross-sectional, national epidemiological study of comorbid conditions in mental health in Spain showed that among a sample of 7936 adult patients, about half had more than one psychiatric disorder. Furthermore, in the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey, 51% of patients with a diagnosis of major depression also had at least one anxiety disorder. Only 26% of them had no other mental health condition. In the Early Developmental Stages of Psychopathology Study, 48.6% of patients with a diagnosis of major depression also had at least one anxiety disorder. Just over one-third (34.8%) had no other mental disorder. Treatment Challenges in Comorbidities Overlap of medical conditions with psychiatric conditions is a significant challenge for healthcare professionals. For example, a person diagnosed with both diabetes and depression would be treated for both conditions, but consideration for overlap between medications and symptoms would need to be coordinated by the various health care professionals offering treatment. If you live with multiple conditions or disorders, it is important that your doctor is aware of all medications and over-the-counter drugs you are taking, to ensure the risk of medication interactions is reduced. Can Comorbidities Be Prevented? Healthcare professionals can play a role in preventing comorbidity. For example, if a social anxiety disorder is left untreated for a long period of time, a person may also develop depression and/or substance abuse in response to the anxiety symptoms. So prompt diagnosis and treatment of one condition may prevent the development of comorbidities. At a broader level, coordination between primary doctors and mental health professionals is key to preventing comorbid conditions. If you've been diagnosed with a physical and/or mental health condition, keep good records of the care that you receive from various professionals, so that each can be aware of the various treatments you are receiving. A Word From Verywell If you feel that you have symptoms of more than one mental disorder or those of a physical health condition in addition to a mental disorder, it is important to consult with your primary care physician or mental health professional to determine the best course of action. The unique combination of symptoms that you experience will determine whether medication and/or therapy is best for your situation. 7 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Koyuncu A, İnce E, Ertekin E, Tükel R. Comorbidity in social anxiety disorder: diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Drugs Context. 2019;8:212573. doi:10.7573/dic.212573 He VY, Condon JR, Ralph AP, et al. Long-term outcomes from acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease: A data-linkage and survival analysis approach. Circulation. 2016;134(3):222-232. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.020966 Vaidyanathan U, Patrick CJ, Iacono WG. Patterns of comorbidity among mental disorders: a person-centered approach. Compr Psychiatry. 2011;52(5):527-535. doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2010.10.006 Roca M, Gili M, Garcia-Garcia M, et al. Prevalence and comorbidity of common mental disorders in primary care. J Affect Disord. 2009;119(1-3):52-58. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2009.03.014 Maj M. "Psychiatric comorbidity": an artefact of current diagnostic systems? Br J Psychiatry. 2005;186:182-184. doi:10.1192/bjp.186.3.182 Sartorious N. Comorbidity of mental and physical diseases: a main challenge for medicine of the 21st century. Shanghai Arch Psychiatry. 2013;25(2):68-69. doi:10.3969/j.issn.1002-0829.2013.02.002 McHugh RK. Treatment of co-occurring anxiety disorders and substance use disorders. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2015;23(2):99-111. doi:10.1097/HRP.0000000000000058 Additional Reading Pincus HA, Tew JD, First MB. Psychiatric comorbidity: is more less?. World Psychiatry. 2004;3(1):18-23. Trivedi RB, Post EP, Sun H, Pomerantz A, Saxon AJ, Piette JD, et al. Prevalence, comorbidity, and prognosis of mental health among US veterans. Am J Public Health. 2015;105(12):2564–9. By Arlin Cuncic Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Social Anxiety Disorder Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.