Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)
Social Phobia, also called Social Anxiety Disorder, is a condition whereby the individual feels overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. It’s not that a person becomes afraid of people, but what other people may think of him or her. In a sense, the individual becomes extremely self-conscious in social environments.
People with Social Phobia have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions. This fear may be so severe that it interferes with work, school, or any other ordinary social activity.
While many people with Social Phobia recognize that their fear of being around people is unusually excessive, they believe that they are unable to overcome it. And often, they worry for days or weeks prior to a social situation.
Social Phobia can be limited to one type of situation, like speaking in public, or it can be as severe as to encompass many or all social situations.
Symptoms can include any of the symptoms associated with anxiety disorder, and can often contribute to the anxiety of a social situation because of the fear associated with the symptoms coming at an ‘inopportune time’ or visible enough for others to notice.
Social Phobia affects approximately 7% of the population and equally affects women and men. This disorder usually begins in childhood or early adolescence. Social Phobia often co-occurs with other anxiety disorders such as depression, substance abuse, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder.
With today’s excellent treatment options, such as good self-help information and therapy, anyone can overcome Social Phobia.
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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated April 2015.