Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is also called social phobia. It is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by an intense and unreasonable fear of social situations. This anxiety comes from a fear of being judged and criticized. Over 19 million Americans have this disorder, making it the most common anxiety disorder and the third most common mental disorder in the United States. More common in women than men, this disorder usually appears in adolescence or early adulthood, but may occur at any time, even childhood.

An individual with social anxiety disorder fears that he or she will make errors and be humiliated in front of other people. The fear may magnify because of a lack in social skills or experience. The anxiety may be so intense that it can transform into a panic attack. Because of the fear, the person either tolerates social situations with extreme frustration or avoids them completely. Further, individuals with social anxiety disorder often experience anticipatory anxiety, or the fear of a situation before it happens. In many situations, the individual with the anxiety is aware the emotions and thoughts are unreasonable, but is unable to control it.

People with social anxiety disorder have distorted thinking. This includes false beliefs and negative opinions. Without treatment, their condition can disrupt daily living. Education, work, social life, and relationships can be affected. People with this disorder may be afraid of an isolated and specific scenario. However, most people with the condition fear more than one situation. Situations that provoke anxiety are: Public speaking. Being in the spotlight. Using public restrooms. Interacting with people (dating, going out, going to parties). Asking questions or giving reports in groups. Eating in front of others.

Working in front of others.

Social anxiety disorder may be connected to other mental illnesses, like panic disorder, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people with this disorder feel don’t recognize their feelings as signs of mental illness. They just think that something is wrong with them. Symptoms of social anxiety disorder may involve: Overwhelming anxiety in social situations Confusion Heart pounding Sweating Shaking Blushing Muscle tension Upset stomach and diarrhea

Avoidance of social scenarios

The treatment of social anxiety disorder may include therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication. Lifestyle changes alone are usually not enough to correct the illness, but they can help. These changes reduce anxiety levels. They include limiting or avoiding caffeinated items, like coffee and soda. Caffeine is a stimulant when it comes to anxiety. Further, avoiding alcohol is a key step, as alcohol increases the chance of having an anxiety attack. Quitting smoking is another change that can be beneficial, as nicotine is a stimulant. Thus, smoking may lead to anxiety. Further, lack of sleep may lead to anxiety. Therefore, it is very important to get adequate sleep to help you stay calm and collected in social settings. When it comes to medication, social anxiety disorder may be treated with some types of antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines. Cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy can really help when it comes to this form of mental illness.