What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

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Another term for social anxiety disorder is social phobia, and many people don't really know what they mean. Social anxiety is fairly normal, so what makes it a "disorder"? With some examples, it's easier to understand the difference between the terms.

Social Anxiety vs. Social Anxiety Disorder (or Social Phobia)

Nearly everyone has at least a little bit of regular social anxiety, when you get a bit nervous or shy when in social situations. It is especially noticeable when meeting someone new (especially someone of the opposite sex). These feelings are quite common and not really a problem. The main difference between regular anxiety and phobia is that someone with a social phobia has a much more intense fear of being judged badly by others when in social situations. A person with a social phobia is extremely self-conscious, feels watched and always worried about how they are being perceived. They can simply never just relax and be social. People with these phobias don't feel able to make a good impression or to have an interesting conversation. They will avoid social situations as much as possible. It can lead to full-blown panic attacks in severe cases. This phobia can keep people from having a normal life. The constant fear leads them to have very isolated lives as they work to avoid all social contact. It's estimated that anywhere from 3 to 13% of the population have some kind of social anxiety problem.

How Does Someone Develop A Social Anxiety Disorder?

No one yet knows where social anxiety disorders come from. There are many factors that can contribute to its development, but there is no one single cause. Some possible influences include:

  • Negative experiences when growing up. If you were harassed by bullies, were unpopular or rejected by your peers, or had any other type of negative social experiences, it can trigger social phobias later in life. Even just hearing about potential negative experiences from others can lead to irrational fears.
  • Grew up lacking social relationships. Anyone growing up in an isolated environment with little opportunity for social interactions is more likely to develop a social anxiety disorder.
  • Grew up in a competitive environment. If you always felt the need to be perfect and always in competition with others, that can lead to excessive anxiety in social settings as you got older.
  • Your parents have social phobias. It's very easy to pick up social anxiety behavior if you see one or both of your parents have it while you are growing up.
  • Your parents placed high value on other's opinions. If your parents taught you to be constantly concerned with the opinions of others, you can develop a preoccupation with how other people see you. This can create more anxiety than usual in social settings.

Symptoms Of Social Phobias People suffering from social anxiety disorders may have some of the following symptoms, and some may have them all depending on the severity of their phobia. These are some of the physical symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Short of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Stomach pains
  • Trembling hands
  • Nausea
  • Stammering
  • Blushing
  • Nervous tics
  • Mind goes blank
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks

Aside from the physical symptoms, there are behavioral traits seen in people with social anxiety disorders as well.

  • Very self-conscious
  • Afraid of being negatively judged (even by friends)
  • Afraid of being mocked or made fun of
  • Blushes easily from embarrassment
  • Constantly fear what other think
  • Can't use public bathrooms
  • Very lonely
  • Afraid of confrontation or conflict
  • Feelings of inferiority to others
  • Put themselves down frequently
  • Afraid of speaking to people in authority
  • Hate introducing themselves to new people
  • Hate being the center of attention
  • Intense and repeated negative thoughts
  • Afraid of eating in public
  • Perfectionists, and hate not being able to meet their own standards
  • Afraid of phone calls
  • Afraid of public speaking or job interviews
  • Often turn to alcohol or drugs to ease anxiety
  • Suffer from insomnia
  • Fear of rejection

People who have social anxiety disorders are in need of real help, but they are unaware how to find this help. They may not even realize that help is available for their problem. Professional help is available, and social phobia are certainly curable with a little effort. If you know someone with a social phobia, let them know that help is out there.

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Sebastiaan Van Der Schrier has 1 articles online

Sebastiaan van der Schrier is the editor of http://www.social-anxiety-solutions.com your comprehensive guide to overcoming any and all social anxiety forever. If you'd like to find out if you have the problem, find a social anxiety test at http://www.social-anxiety-solutions.com/social-anxiety-test.html

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This article was published on 2010/03/31