Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

social phobia

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is a very common anxiety disorder characterized by a persistent fear/shyness of social situations in which humiliation, scrutiny, or embarrassment could take place.  The anxiety in social situations is irrational, excessive, and out of proportion to the likelihood of the fear coming true.  This chronic condition typically begins early in life and it has the potential to become impairing.  A person with Social Anxiety recognizes that his/her anxiety is irrational, yet it’s still difficult to control the anxiety or worry. 


It is common for Social Phobia to co-occur with other psychological disorders.


Moderate levels of social anxiety are normal, and can even be healthy.  Everyone experiences embarrassment.  This can help a prevent someone from doing something foolish that could lead to a worse consequence (such as being too confrontational with the boss).  However, a person with Social Anxiety Disorder has high levels of anxiety that have a negative impact on one's career, relationships, family, and social life. 


Social phobia should not be mistaken with Paranoid Disorders.  There is an important difference between paranoia and Social Anxiety fears. A paranoid person fears that others will do something negative to them. Conversely, people with social phobia fear that they will be the cause of their embarrassment or humiliation due to acting inappropriately or seeming a "certain way."  Thus, a social phobic may not want to be introduced to new people for fear that he or she will say something stupid or look too nervous. 



    Possible anxious thoughts:

    What if I say something wrong?
    What if they laugh? 
    I think I come across looking stupid!
    What if I cry? 
    What if they think I am weird or dorky?
    What if I’m boring?
    What if I sound stupid?
    What if I act stupid?
    What if I walk stupidly?
    What if I drop something and people laugh
    What if I trip?
    I really hope nobody notices me!
    I hope I don’t have get up to use the restroom.
    I can’t let people watch me eat!
    I don’t like walking too close to people!
    What if I start blushing in front of everyone?  
    What if I answer the phone and I sound like an idiot?
    What if I’m discovered? 




Cognitive Symptoms

Social perfection
Performance worries
Mind going blank
Global shyness


Behavioral Symptoms

Avoidant behavior in social situations
Avoiding public speaking
Escape behaviors in social settings
Reviewing behavior
Rehearsing what he/she will say
Spending excessive amounts of time alone
Self-medicating with alcohol


Physiological Symptoms:

    Stomach problems
    Racing heart
    Cold, clammy hands
    Difficulty breathing
    Panic attack related to social situations
    Freeze up in fear in social situations



A person with social anxiety who blushes will usually be very self-conscious of this issue, causing more anxiety about what others will think.

It’s not uncommon to abuse alcohol or drugs for social anxiety issues.  (mild, moderate, or severe).



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The information on this site has not been evaluated nor has it been written by a physician or medical doctor. The information contained on this site is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used to diagnose, treat or prevent a medical or psychological disorder.


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