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Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

It is entirely normal to feel a little nervous in some social situations. But social anxiety disorder causes significant anxiety, embarrassment and self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Therefore, a social anxiety disorder is a definitive psychological disorder. 

What is social anxiety disorder?

Also known as social phobia, social anxiety disorder is a type of mental disorder that causes extreme anxiety and nervousness in social gatherings. If you are suffering from any social anxiety disorder, you may find it difficult to interact with new people or attend social gatherings altogether. You may also fear being judged by others at social events. 

People often confuse social anxiety disorder with shyness. However, the two are entirely unrelated. Shyness may be short-term and does not disrupt your everyday life. On the other hand, social anxiety disorder can be long-term and affect your ability to work, attend school or college, and develop relationships with people outside your family and close friends’ circle.

What are the symptoms of social anxiety disorder?

A feeling of discomfort or shyness may not necessarily be a symptom of social anxiety disorder. The common signs and symptoms of a social anxiety disorder include:

Physical symptoms

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea

Behavioral and emotional symptoms

  • Constantly worrying about humiliating or embarrassing yourself
  • Fear of certain situations where others may judge you
  • Extreme fear of interacting with new people
  • Avoiding interacting with new people out of a fear of embarrassment or humiliation
  • Avoiding being in situations where you may be the center of attention

What causes social anxiety disorder?

The exact causes of social anxiety disorder are unknown. However, researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors may be the causes. In addition, specific negative experiences may also trigger social anxiety disorder, such as sexual abuse, bullying or family conflict.

  • Brain structure

Amygdala is a part of the brain that controls the fear response. People who have an overactive amygdala may experience a heightened fear response, leading to increased anxiety in social gatherings.

  • Environment

Some people may develop social anxiety disorder after encountering an embarrassing or unpleasant situation. Additionally, overprotective and controlling parents can also make their children highly anxious in social gatherings.

When should you visit a doctor?

Consult a mental health professional if you notice yourself avoiding everyday social gatherings because of embarrassment or fear.

Request an appointment at Apollo Hospitals. 

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

Can social anxiety disorder be treated?

There are several treatment options available for social anxiety disorder. Some people may only need one type of treatment. However, others may need more than one treatment option. 

The standard treatment approaches for social anxiety disorder include:

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

A therapist will help you with learning how to control your anxiety through breathing and relaxation. They will also teach you how to control and replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

Group therapy

Group therapy will help you learn how to interact and communicate with people in social gatherings. Taking part in group therapy and people who have the same fears may help you feel less isolated. 

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy will help you face social situations gradually rather than avoiding them.

Medications

A mental health professional may prescribe certain medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to help ease the symptoms of your social anxiety. In addition, he/she may recommend paroxetine or sertraline. Another type of medication used is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).

Conclusion

Social anxiety disorder is a mental disorder. If left untreated, this disorder can lead to high-risk behaviors such as suicidal thoughts, loneliness and drug or alcohol abuse. If you or loverd ones are experiencing symptoms of social anxiety disorder, immediately consult a mental health professional.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 How can you know that your social anxiety has become a disorder?

Usually, social anxiety disorder occurs at the age of 13 years. It can be linked to a history of sexual or mental abuse, overprotective and controlling parents and bullying. 

 Is social anxiety a psychological disorder?

Social anxiety is a mental health condition. It can be described as an intense, persistent fear of being watched or judged by others at social gatherings. 

Can social anxiety go away on its own?

Social anxiety can be very distressing and have a significant impact on your life. For some people, social anxiety goes away as they grow older. However, for others, it does not go away without treatment. Therefore, it is essential that you get help and consult a mental health professional if you have the symptoms.

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