Anxiety disorders may represent different territory from mood disorders, yet their symptoms frequently overlap and their relationship to life events may be similar. Unlike cognitive behavioral therapy, which has for some time been used to treat various anxiety disorders, IPT until recently had not been tested. Now, however, several research teams are exploring the utility of IPT to treat social phobia, panic disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Social phobia is, according to DSM-IV ( American Psychiatric Association, 1994), the marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which one is exposed to possible scrutiny by unfamiliar people. The individual fears he or she will act in a way that will be humiliating or embarrassing, or that the appearance of anxiety symptoms will themselves have that effect. The resulting anxiety leads the person to avoid social situations, or causes marked distress if he or she attends them.
Social phobia is distinguished from simple shyness by its restriction of the sufferer's life to a small circle of friends or family, or to work with limited social interactions. Discrete symptoms of social phobia can occur in people who are otherwise outgoing and self-assured outside a specifically feared situation, such as public speaking or eating among strangers.