Social anxiety disorder is also commonly known as social phobia and is the most common anxiety disorder. It is characterized by chronic anxiety and excessive fear of being judged negatively by others and feeling embarrassed or humiliated. A person with this disorder may experience extreme fears about other’s opinions even if they know their thoughts are blown out of proportion. As a result, someone living with this disorder often avoids social situations.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety People with social anxiety disorder can become afraid of public speaking, eating in restaurants, going to parties, meeting new people, etc. Sometimes people might only be afraid of certain situations, while others may feel very anxious in a variety of different social situations. Some people may experience panic attacks specifically related to social situations, while others are able to endure social situations, with constant high levels of anxiety.
Some common symptoms include:
• Blushing • Sweating • Rapid heart rate • Shaking • Dry Mouth • Perspiring • Feeling very hot • Afraid of losing track of a conversation
Someone is diagnosed with social anxiety disorder when their anxiety or avoidance of situations causes great distress and interferes with work, family, friends, social activities or significant relationships.
Treatment of Social Anxiety There are effective treatments for social phobia that allow people to live productive and fulfilling lives. Both medication and talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), are used in treating this disorder with great success. Attending self-help or support groups may also be beneficial and are recommended.
Family members play a key role in the recovery process. It is important to be supportive; to validate the loved one’s feelings and symptoms, even if there is a lack of understanding. It is detrimental to the person living with an anxiety disorder to have their symptoms trivialized or to insist upon recovery without treatment.