Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated April 25, 2021

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia, SAD)

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also called Social Phobia, is a condition whereby the individual feels overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. In a sense, the individual becomes extremely self-conscious in social environments. People with SAD 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 Anxiety Disorder 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 Anxiety Disorder 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 Anxiety Disorder affects approximately 7% of the population and equally affects women and men. This disorder usually begins in childhood or early adolescence. Social Anxiety Disorder often co-occurs with other anxiety disorders such as depression, substance abuse, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder.

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With today’s excellent treatment options, such as good self-help information and therapy, anyone can overcome Social Anxiety Disorder.

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Visit our Anxiety Disorders Signs and Symptoms article. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms.