Social anxiety disorder, also sometimes referred to as social phobia, is a mental disorder in which the sufferer has an intense fear of social situations, particularly new and unpredictable ones. This disorder can vary in its severity from individual to individual. However, for severe sufferers, they will likely find social interactions extremely traumatic and may avoid socializing with others all together because their anxiety symptoms increase dramatically in these settings.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder:
- Intense fear/phobia of social situations
- Avoiding social interactions and situations
- Fear of drinking and eating in front of others
- Fear of interacting/meeting new people
- Fear of public speaking
- Fear of talking on the telephone
- Fear of being the center of attention
- Fear of performing in front of others
- Fear of being socially embarrassed/ostracized
- Fear of asking for help or asking questions in general
- Fear of going to social gatherings, such as work events and parties
Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder:
Some research has shown that the causes of anxiety in a social environment can run in families and be passed down from one generation to another. Other research has shown that social anxiety could be due to an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, such as low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Psychological factors can also play a huge part in people with social anxiety disorders, as sufferers can often link the beginnings of their disorder back to a traumatic event (or series of events) in their past. These can often be past traumatic events that caused intense social embarrassment and as a result led to a total fear and distrust of social interactions. In addition, people who have not socialized much in their childhood, such as if they were home schooled or spent a large time away from school (for example due to illness) may develop social anxiety due to poor social skills and a general lack of experience in social situations.
Tests & Diagnosis:
There is no specific blood test or other physical test that can diagnose social anxiety disorder but this disorder can be diagnosed after a thorough mental evaluation by a general practitioner or psychiatrist. The patient will usually be asked a series of questions that could involve completing several anxiety and depression related questionnaires and surveys in order to establish the type of anxiety he or she is suffering from. Once social anxiety has been diagnosed the doctor will likely prescribe psychotherapy, prescription anxiety medications or a combination of both. These can be used to help the patient deal with their anxiety disorder more easily or to overcome it completely.
Drugs and Anxiety Treatment:
A social anxiety sufferer can complete psychotherapy sessions or see a cognitive behavioral therapist. The root causes of anxiety are explored to help the sufferer understand how to deal with anxiety in social settings. To help establish these causes and develop coping skills for anxiety, he or she may also be prescribed medications and popular medications used to help treat sufferers of social anxiety can include:
There is no specific way to avoid developing social anxiety disorder but it can be effectively treated with medication and psychotherapy.
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