Social Anxiety Disorder is also commonly referred to as social phobia. This is an anxiety disorder where a person has an unusual and excessive fear of being in different kinds of social situations. These people typically suffer from high and unusual amounts of anxiety that stem from a fear of being closely judged, watched, and even criticized by others around them.
Avoiding Social Situations
A person that suffers from this particular disorder is actually afraid that he or she will make a lot of mistakes and end up looking bad in front of others. Therefore, they will be embarrassed and even humiliated in some cases in front of everyone.
This particular fear can be made even worse by having a lack of social skills and/or experiences in different social situations.
A person without any social skills will likely suffer from a panic attack from being put into unfamiliar situations.
Therefore, someone that suffers from social anxiety might actually try to avoid the situations to begin with which can result in anticipatory anxiety which is a fear of the situation before they ever get into it. This can occur days or even weeks/months before the event or situation even arises.
In most cases, the person is very much aware that they have an unreasonable fear of being in different social situations. However, they still have yet to overcome the fear. In the following video Sean Cooper talks about the need to make changes in your life if you suffer from shyness and anxiety…
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An Inability to Function at a Social Level
People that suffer from this type of disorder actually suffer from distorted thinking which includes having false beliefs about different situations that they may find themselves in socially. They might also develop negative opinions and emotions about others because of this fear.
Without proper treatment, this type of anxiety disorder can actually negatively interfere with a person’s normal day to day activities and ability to function at a social level. This can end up negatively affecting someone’s work, school, relationships, and more.
People that suffer from this type of anxiety are likely to be afraid of different situations such as speaking in front of people and/or in public. However, a lot of the people that suffer from this type of anxiety actually fear a lot more than one specific social situation.
Some of the different situations that others may fear are…
- Eating in front of others
- Working in front of others
- Being the center of attention
- Asking questions
- Giving a presentation in groups
- Using public toilets
- Even talking on the telephone
Social anxiety disorder can also be linked to other types of mental illnesses including; panic disorder, depression, and also obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In actuality, a lot of the people that suffer from this particular disorder actually go to the Doctor because of these other issues that are related instead of going because they suffer from social anxiety symptoms.
The Signs of Social Anxiety
Generally, people that suffer from social anxiety do feel and/or sense that something is ‘off.’
However, a majority of them do not understand and/or recognize their feelings as a sign of an illness.
A lot of the symptoms of this disorder can include the following; avoidance of social situations… intense anxiety during social situations… even physical symptoms of anxiety which include different things such as sweating, shaking, blushing, and more.
How Common is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Actually, social anxiety is the 2nd most common type of anxiety disorder out there. It is actually also the 3rd most common mental disorder in the United States after alcohol dependence and depression. Believe it or not, but around 19 million Americans currently suffer from social anxiety disorder. This particular disorder generally comes about during adolescence and/or in early adulthood. However, this particular disorder can actually occur at virtually anytime, and it is actually more common in women than it is in men.
What Causes Social Anxiety?
There is no known cause of this particular disorder. It is believed that there are biological, environmental, and psychological factors that play a critical role in the development of it.
Social anxiety disorder is thought to be very closely related to having abnormal function of the brain circuits that actually work to regulate different emotions and this causes irrational responses in the brain. There are also believed to be genetic factors that play a role in developing it, as well. This particular disorder is more likely to occur when a relative suffers from it.
The actual development of this disorder is also believed to stem from experiencing different embarrassing and/or humiliating experiences in the past. This can include either being bullied by ones friends and/or classmates can cause worry or fear of social situations in children about social situations. A constant inner dialogue about how they are measuring up can have a negative effect.
Another factor that is believed to play a role in the development of this disorder is the environment. People that suffer from this disorder may actually develop the fear of being in social situations from actually looking at and observing others in the same role. Therefore, by seeing what happened to someone else, they might develop the same irrational fear.
How Is Social Anxiety Diagnosed?
Social anxiety is actually diagnosed by a Doctor from asking different questions about your medical history. Also, they will perform a psychical exam. While there are no specific lap tests that will prove you have social anxiety disorder, there are ways in which to utilize tests to ensure that a physical illness is not the direct cause of it.
If no physical illness is present and/or found in your body, your Doctor will likely refer you to a psychologist or other type of mental health professional that is specifically trained in order to be able to treat and diagnose mental illnesses. These individuals are specifically trained and educated on how to evaluate a person for anxiety disorder. The Doctor will be able to base their diagnosis on different symptoms that you discuss and how often you suffer from them.
Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment
For social anxiety disorder, the best and most effective treatment available is cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication may also be used to help ease the symptoms of the disorder so that the treatment sessions are more effective overall. Have a look at this interesting article about negative thinking.