Social anxiety disorder – also known as social phobia – in an anxiety disorder in which a person has an unreasonable and excessive fear of social situations. The person suffering from this feels extremely nervous and self-conscious, and this arises from having a feeling of being closely watched, judged critically and humiliating oneself. A person with social anxiety disorder is afraid that he or she will make mistakes, look bad, and be embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. The fear of making mistakes, which is present in everyone, is amplified in a person suffering from this disorder.
This situation is further worsened if the person lacks social skills or has very little experience of dealing with social situations. As a result, the person endures these situations feeling extremely distressed or may avoid putting themselves in a social environment altogether. Research has shown that shutting out social interactions only makes the disorder worse and increases the mental fear, breeding it into having more significance, even though the fear is unreasonable. In many cases, it’s been proven that the person is aware how unreasonable the fear is but is unable to control or subdue it when exposed to social situations.
People with social anxiety disorder suffer from distorted thinking, including false beliefs about social situations and the negative opinions of others. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can negatively interfere with the person’s normal daily routine, including school, work, social activities, and relationships. They may be afraid of specific situations, such as speaking in public. However, according to experts, people with social anxiety disorder are afraid of more than one social situation.
This disorder usually begins in childhood or adolescence, and children are prone to clinging behavior, tantrums, and even selective mutism (this is an anxiety disorder in which a person who is normally capable of speech does not speak in specific situations or to specific people.) Typical age of onset is 13 years and almost 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help for the same. Social anxiety disorder is one the most common mental health problems in the world today. Millions of people all over the world suffer from this devastating and traumatic condition every day, either from a specific social anxiety or from a more generalized social anxiety.
People with social anxiety disorder usually experience significant emotional distress in the following situations:
- Being introduced to other people;
- Being teased or criticized;
- Being the center of attention;
- Being watched while doing something;
- Meeting people in authority (“important people”);
- Most social encounters, especially with strangers;
- Going around the room (or table) in a circle and having to say something;
- Interpersonal relationships, whether friendships or romantic;
This list is not a complete list of symptoms, other distressing effects also exist but they may differ from person to person. Social anxiety disorder can be treated effectively and no person has to live with it haunting them forever. The most common methods of treating social anxiety are Psychotherapy and Medication, these can be done separately or in a combination, depending on the doctor as well as the mental state of the patient. But, it’s best to seek help as soon as possible instead of living out your life in shadows.