Social anxiety disorder, a psychological condition characterized by significant anxiety about social interactions, is prevalent among medical students in Sudan, a new study finds.
Symptoms of the disorder, also known as social phobia, include shyness, stress, and a tendency to stay silent and to avoid dealing with others, the study’s authors say, and it can affect students’ grades and, in extreme cases, lead to significant psychological and behavioral problems.
Many people may experience some degree of social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, but the problem may be particularly prevalent among Sudan’s doctors in training because of unique pressures they have had to cope with in recent years, including disruptions at universities caused by political unrest, climate emergencies, and a confusing series of changes in the medical education system itself, the study’s authors and medical educators say. (See two related articles, “Sudan’s Floods Destroy Schools and Dreams” and “Sudan’s Academic Year Begins—But Only for a Few Universities.”)
The study, titled “Prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder among Medical Students from Six Medical Schools in Khartoum State” and published in the Sudan Journal of Medical Sciences, was conducted by four medical students from four different universities in Sudan and Egypt.
The authors found the disorder was common among the 375 medical students who participated in the research. Overall, more than 60 percent of the students in the study experienced some degree of social anxiety disorder, and more than 20 percent of them experienced it in a “severe” or “very severe” form, according to the study.