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Social anxiety disorder

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Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia is psychological condition wherein the individual senses extreme fear towards social situations and while being surrounded by people.


Symptoms of social anxiety disorder

  • Avoiding social situations, family get together, going out in groups, etc.
  • Experiencing cold feet, sweating, extreme shyness, blushing, stomach pain, anxiety, and trembling in social situations.
  • Dreading to meet people, making friends and talking to people, etc.
  • Suffering from panic attacks
  • Fear of being criticised, being the centre of attention, gossips, etc. 
Social anxiety can be detected in childhood as well. Children express their anxiety towards social situations by crying, throwing severe tantrums, freezing, exhibiting strong disapproval towards going school, joining classes, playing with other kids, etc.


Causes of social anxiety disorder

Circumstances, environment and medical factors are responsible for social anxiety disorders.

The reasons could be: 

  • It can run in family. Research studies have shown that social anxiety can occur from improper functioning of those parts of the brain involved in fear and anxiety.
  • People who have been victims of extreme social humiliation and embarrassment or have seen his/her loved one experiencing a similar situation can acquire social anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder is often linked to other mental complications like depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, etc. It can either result from or lead to alcohol or illegal drug abuse. 

Men and women of any age group can suffer from social anxiety. Children who are too much sheltered and protected by their parents are vulnerable to having social phobias.


Diagnosis of social anxiety disorder

You certainly need a psychiatrist’s help if you are suffering from social phobia. First of all you need to explain the symptoms and let him know if someone in your family has suffered from it. Also make sure that you tell your doctor about your medical history and if you are taking any medicines.

A special diagnosis will be conducted by your psychologist to assess your mental condition, severity of the disorder and other factors associated with it.


Management of social anxiety disorder

The psychological approach to manage the symptoms is cognitive behavioural theory. Your doctor will schedule sessions for you depending upon the extent of the social anxiety. The therapy entails boosting your cognition about your anxiety, learning the symptoms and then changing your behaviour and attitude towards people and society by incorporating realistic techniques.

Counselling would also be offered to children and their respective parents. If your child is suffering from social anxiety then you must follow the instructions of your doctor and help your child in every way.

In combination with CBT, you might be given anti-depressants for a certain time. Usually SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) are prescribed. Your doctor will let you know the side effects that you might experience while taking the drug.

Apart from psychological therapies and medicines, you must help yourself to overcome social phobias. Read books, surf online how to get rid of social anxiety, join meditation classes and mostly important stay away from alcohol and drugs.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: June 24, 2014

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