Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is characterized by an unreasonable fear of social situations and social interactions. The fear caused by social anxiety disorder is so intense that people may experience panic attacks when faced with social situations.
According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of American, approximately 15 million American adults suffer from social phobia. While social anxiety disorder usually develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, social phobia can occur at any age.
Social Anxiety Disorder Triggers
Social anxiety disorder stems from a fear of being judged or criticized by others. Social phobia sufferers may be afraid that they will make mistakes in public or embarrass themselves. These fears are excessive and often debilitating. The individual may be aware that symptoms of social anxiety are not normal, but is unable to effectively deal with the phobia without social anxiety disorder help.
A person suffering from symptoms of social anxiety disorder may fear either one type of event or multiple social situations. It is more common for social anxiety disorder to apply to multiple social events than a single situation, but cases of social phobias only in a single situation do occur. An intense fear of public speaking, for instant, is a common example of a social phobia.
It’s important to note, however, that merely feeling nervous – or even feeling afraid – about public speaking is not a sign of social anxiety disorder. Many people are nervous when confronted with public speaking, but they are capable of speaking in spite of their fear. A person with social anxiety disorder may have a fear of public speaking so intense that he or she will actively avoid speaking and may suffer panic attacks over the very idea.
Consequences of Social Phobias
The consequences of social anxiety disorder can be devastating. The condition impairs a person’s ability to form meaningful social or romantic relationships.
In its most severe form, a social phobia can make it difficult to leave the house. Low self-esteem, damaged careers and poor quality of life are all social anxiety disorder complications.
Social Anxiety Disorder Help
People who receive treatment for social anxiety disorder often approach doctors for help with other mental conditions. Other anxiety disorders, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder may all be seen alongside social phobia, with the two disorders often exacerbating each other.
Treatment for social anxiety disorder does exist. Medication can help people overcome the symptoms of social anxiety disorder, while therapy helps people learn to change how they think and react in social situations. Social anxiety disorder can be overcome and treated with proper care.
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