Anxiety: Social anxiety
Social Anxiety:
All about social anxiety. Treatments for social phobia

Suffering from social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) can interfere with many aspects of your life. Discover all about social phobia or social anxiety (AS). All treatments, medicines and therapies for social phobia.

What is social anxiety disorder?

Most of us feel anxious before making a presentation, asking someone on a date, or going on a job interview. Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, and pounding heart are normal responses to a new or intimidating social situation.

Definition of social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder is persistent and overwhelming fear of or anxiety about one or more social situations where embarrassment may occur. This fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed. Although anxiety about some social situations is common in the general population, people with social anxiety disorder can worry excessively about them and can do so for weeks in advance. They may also ruminate on social events they perceive have gone wrong for weeks afterwards. Usually the condition causes significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.

Who suffer social anxiety disorder?

But 15 million American adults with social anxiety disorder experience an intense fear of being scrutinized and negatively evaluated by others in social or performance situations. Some literally feel sick from fear while ordering food in a restaurant, signing their name in public, making a phone call, or other seemingly non threatening situations.

How is the fear in social anxiety disorder?

Although they recognize that the fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, feel powerless against their anxiety. They are terrified of being embarrassed or humiliated.

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder

Physical symptoms may include blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, and headaches.

About 20 percent of people with this disorder also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Although alcohol can temporarily reduce symptoms, even moderate amounts can increase anxiety, irritability, or depression.

Social anxiety disorder

What’s the difference between normal anxiety and social anxiety disorder?

Normal Anxiety Social Anxiety Disorder
Feeling anxious before making a presentation, leading a meeting, or asking for a raise
Turning down a well-earned promotion that might involve public speaking
Feeling shy or awkward when walking into a room full of strangers
Feeling too anxious to attend your office holiday party
Feeling nervous or the jitters before a blind date
Refusing a social invitation for fear of embarrassing yourself

Anxiety is normal. It helps us get out of harm’s way and prepare for important events. It warns us when we need to take action. But if you have anxiety that is persistent, irrational, and overwhelming and interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.

The term “anxiety disorders” refers to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

How can social anxiety disorder affect life?

Social anxiety disorder can disrupt family life, reduce self-esteem, and limit work efficiency. For some, it can be socially and economically devastating. It may make it difficult to complete school, interview and obtain a job, and develop friendships and romantic relationships.

The disorder is often selective. Some people may have an intense fear of talking to a salesperson or giving a speech, but they may be comfortable in other similar settings. Other people may become anxious during routine activities such as starting a conversation with a stranger or a person in authority, participating in meetings or classes, or dating and attending parties.

What causes social anxiety disorder?

Studies suggest that biological, genetic, and environmental factors play a role. Equally common among men and women, the disorder typically begins around age 13, sometimes emerging out of a childhood history of shyness. It appears to run in families.

What treatments are available?

Most people find significant improvement with professional care. Many forms of treatment are available, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques, medication, and combination therapy, which include behavioral therapy and medications.

There is no single best treatment. What works for one person may not be the best choice for someone else. A course of treatment should be tailored to your individual needs. Ask your doctor to explain why a particular type of treatment is being recommended, what other options are available, and what you need to do to fully participate in your recovery.

Best 5 tips to manage your social anxiety

Whether you have normal anxiety or an anxiety disorder, these strategies will help you cope:
  • You are not alone. Talk to someone – a friend, loved one or doctor. Get help. Anxiety disorders are real, serious, and treatable.
  • Exercise. Go for a walk or jog. Do yoga. Dance. Just get moving!
  • Talk to someone... spouse, significant other, friend, child, or doctor.
  • Keep a daily journal. Become aware of what triggers your anxiety.
  • Eat balanced diet. Don't skip meals. Avoid caffeine, which can trigger anxiety symptoms.

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