What is Social Anxiety Disorder – Social phobia?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear. It can be mild or severe. It is a very common human emotion in which people feel anxious or nervous in a particular situation for example before taking an important decision or while facing a problem at work etc. However, anxiety disorders are different. They become serious mental illnesses and cause great distress to a person’s ability to perform normally in life. The fears and worries become constant and overwhelming and can be crippling.
There are many types of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, different phobias and most commonly found social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder is a type of specific phobia which shows irrational fear of being scrutinized or negatively judged by people and fear of embarrassment and humiliation due to impulsive or unintentional actions. This disorder also includes stage fright and unreasonable fear of intimacy or social situations. It is a serious mental illness which can be built in panic attack, not a simple shyness or occasional nervousness that has been medicalized. The people with this disorder have no social life or romantic relationships, which make them lonely, powerless and ashamed. In most of the cases, the person is aware that the fear is unreasonable but cannot overcome it.
Like many other mental health problems, social anxiety disorder also arises from complex interaction of genes and environment. There are many causes of social anxiety disorder which include inherited traits and imbalance in brain chemistry but the most common reason for social anxiety disorder is negative experiences in life. Children who experience teasing, ridiculing or humiliations are more likely to develop social anxiety disorder. Family conflicts or breakup or sexual abuse can also become a cause of this disorder when the person does not like to face the world.
Social anxiety disorder usually begins in childhood or start of adolescence and children show clinging behaviors, tantrums and in extreme cases mutism. Typical age of onset of this disorder is 13 years and majority of people report symptoms for more than a decade before seeking help.
Social anxiety disorder can be seen in emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms which include:
- Very limited social interaction
- Worrying about embarrassment and humiliation
- Avoiding judgmental or evaluating situations
Physical signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:
- Trembling or shaking
- Abnormal heartbeat or palpitation
- Nausea, diarrhea and upset stomach
- Cold clammy hands
- Shaky voice
Treating Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder or social phobia can be treated in many ways. The most effective is to challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to anxiety, either through therapy or on your own. The person should stop thinking that everyone is looking at him.
Another helpful thing you can do to overcome social anxiety disorder, is to face the social situations you fear rather than avoiding them. Avoidance leads to more complex problems.
Building better relationships and interacting with other in positive ways also help to tackle and overcome this phobia.