Social Anxiety Disorder – The Basics

Social anxiety disorder is also referred to as social phobia. This is an anxiety disorder in which a person is abnormally fearful of social situations. The anxiety and extreme self-consciousness come from the fear of being closely observed, judged, and/or criticized by others.

Anyone with this type of disorder is afraid that he or she will do something to embarrass or humiliate her/him in front of others. A lack of social skills or not being used to social settings can make matters worse. Sometimes anxiety progresses into a panic attack. For these reasons, the person who suffers from this disorder will either be extremely ill-at-ease in any kind of social situation or will simply avoid them altogther. It’s not uncommon for people who suffer from social anxiety disorder to also have what is called anticipatory anxiety. This is basically the fear that something will happen before it actually happens and it can start days or even weeks before a certain social situaion is to take place. Usually, the person who has these worries realizes that their fear is unreasonable, yet he/she is still unable to overcome it.

This particular type of anxiety disorder distorts your way of thinking to incorporate false or extremely exaggerated beliefs about social settings in general and the negative opinions of others. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can negatively interfere with the individual’s normal daily routine, including school, work, social activities, and relationships.

With a mild case of this disorder, the person may be afraid of a specific public situation, like having to give a presentation or speech. But in the majority of cases, the fear regards mulitple types of situations: eating or drinking in front of others, Writing or working in front of others, being the center of attention, interacting with people (including dating or going to parties), asking questions or giving answers in groups, Using public toilets, and even talking on the phone.

Social anxiety disorder could be connected to other mental illnesses, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression. In fact, many people with this condition first seek help with complaints related to these other disorders, not because of social anxiety symptoms.

Tackling your anxiety alone may be difficult. If your anxiety begins to have the upper hand in your life, affecting the quality of your personal relationships or your productivity, you should probably consider talking to your doctor about treatment.

He/She can discuss a variety of treatment options with you so that you can get your anxiety disorder under control and enjoy a higher quality of life overall. You may start with a medication that alters your brain chemistry to reduce many of the uncomfortable social anxiety disorder symptoms. In addition to this, doctors often prescribe blocks of psychotherapy with a professional who works with you to modify your thought processes that lead to the worry, stress and fear that often accompany anxiety.

The above information does not substitute for medical advice given by a health professional.

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