Social anxiety disorder, also known as social anxiety or social phobia is a diagnosis within psychiatry and other mental health professions referring to excessive social anxiety (anxiety in social situations) causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some areas of daily life.
The diagnosis can be of a specific disorder (when only some particular situations are feared) or a generalized disorder.
Generalized social anxiety disorder typically involves a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being judged by others and of potentially being embarrassed or humiliated by one’s own actions.
These fears can be triggered by perceived or actual scrutiny by others.
While the fear of social interaction may be recognized by the person as excessive or unreasonable, considerable difficulty can be encountered overcoming it.
Approximately 13.3 percent of the general population may meet criteria for social anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime, according to the highest survey estimate, with the male to female ratio being 1:1.5.
Physical symptoms often accompanying social anxiety disorder include excessive blushing, sweating (hyperhidrosis), trembling, palpitations, nausea, and stammering.
Panic attacks may also occur under intense fear and discomfort.
An early diagnosis may help in minimizing the symptoms and the development of additional problems such as depression.
Some sufferers may use alcohol or other drugs to reduce fears and inhibitions at social events. It is very common for sufferers of social phobia to self-medicate in this fashion, especially if they are undiagnosed and/or untreated.
This can lead to alcoholism or other kinds of substance abuse.
A person with the disorder may be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.
Research has shown cognitive behavior therapy, whether individually or in a group, to be effective in treating social phobia.
The cognitive and behavioral components seek to change thought patterns and physical reactions to anxiety-inducing situations.
Prescribed medications include several classes of antidepressants: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Other commonly used medications include beta-blockers and benzodiazepines, as well as newer antidepressants such as mirtazapine.
A herb called kava has also attracted attention as a possible treatment, although safety concerns exist, especially given the unregulated nature of herbs in the United States.
Attention given to social anxiety disorder has significantly increased in the United States since 1999 with the approval and marketing of drugs for its treatment.
Social anxiety is a term used to describe an experience of anxiety (emotional discomfort, fear, apprehension or worry) regarding social situations, interactions with other and being evaluated or scrutinized by other people.
It occurs early in childhood as a normal part of the development of social functioning, but may go unnoticed until adolescence.
People vary in how often they experience social anxiety or in which kinds of situations.
A psychopathological form of social anxiety is called “social anxiety disorder” or social phobia.
This disorder can become major obsessions and can result in a reduced quality of life.
Social anxiety can be self-integrated and persistent for people who suffer from O.C.D, which can make social anxiety even harder to control, especially if ignored.
Some use the terms “social anxiety” and “social phobia” interchangeably.