NEW YORK (Reuters) - The controversial diagnosis social phobia is a legitimate psychiatric condition and is not the same as shyness, government researchers say in a new report. Based on a large national survey, they found cases of social phobia among teens who described themselves as shy as well as among those who didnt. Shyness is not necessarily social phobia and thats the point of our paper, said Kathleen Merikangas of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Her team also found that fewer than eight percent of adolescents with social phobia said they had been treated with antidepressants. According to the new report, in the journal Pediatrics, that suggests social phobia isnt a concept created to sell medications to people experiencing common emotions like shyness, as some critics have worried. I think their article is a welcome reminder that psychiatric diagnoses arent some kind of conspiracy on the part of the pharmaceutical industry, said Ian Dowbiggin, a historian and the author of The Quest for Mental Health: A Tale of Science, Medicine, Scandal, Sorrow, and Mass Society. But to him, the new findings dont challenge the idea that social phobia is just a new label for experiences that were once considered normal. They left out the whole debate about how much our society and culture influence the way people report their emotional states, Dowbiggin, of the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, Canada, told Reuters Health. We are currently living in a culture of 'therapism, he said. It encourages shy people to conclude that they suffer from a significant impairment in their social functioning. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, social phobia is characterised by persistent, intense and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions. And the condition is tied to a host of problems in daily life, Merikangas added. Many of these kids wont go to school on days they have to speak in class, or they wont go to parties, she told Reuters Health. They are so upset by having to be in some of these social contexts that it really does impair their educational performance.