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SOCIAL PHOBIA

Overview

Social Anxiety disorder also called Social Phobia, is characterized by intense anxiety, or fear of being judged or negativity evaluated or rejected, feel embarrassment in social or performance situations. People with social anxiety disorder feel worry or anxiety restricted to some specific situation. As a result they try to avoid social or performance situation and when it cannot be avoided they experience significance anxiety symptoms like increase heart rate, dryness of throat, trembling of hands and body, increase sweating, nervousness and feel powerless against their anxiety.

No significant etiology can be concluded for causing social phobia. It affects mainly teenager and average age of onset is between 10 to 17 years. Performance type of Social Phobia is when person experience intense fear and anxiety only during speaking or performing in public, but not in other types of social situations. In children, anxiety may be expressed by crying, having temper tantrums, clinging to parents or refusing to speak in social situations.


How to recognize

It can be recognized by presence of symptoms related to specific situation like

Physical symptoms

  • Fear of situations in which you may be judged
  • Blushing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Trembling of limbs
  • Sweating
  • Butterfly feeling in stomach
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness or blank mind

Emotional and behavioral symptoms

  • Fear of that particular situations in which you may be judged, to feel embarrassing or humiliating
  • Intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers
  • Having anticipatory anxiety for particular situation
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
  • Avoiding doing things or finding difficulties in speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment or being judged
  • Expecting the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation

Further, Persons with Social Phobia starts avoiding the situations and ultimately starts affecting Social, Occupational functioning and Personal life.

They start avoiding

  • Interaction with unfamiliar people or strangers or attending parties or Social gatherings.
  • Going to work or school
  • Making eye contact
  • Dating
  • Entering a room in which people are already seated
  • Returning items to a store
  • Eating in front of others
  • Using a public restroom

Long term consequences

In long term person with Social Phobia suffers from

  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative self-talk
  • Trouble being assertive
  • Poor social skills
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism
  • Isolation and difficult social relationships
  • Low academic and employment achievement
  • Substance abuse, such as drinking too much alcohol
  • Suicide or suicide attempts


Physical symptoms

Physical signs and symptoms can sometimes accompany social anxiety disorder and may include:

  • Blushing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling that your mind has gone blank
  • Muscle tension

Treatment

  • Antidepressants, Anti-anxiety medications remains helpful.
  • Beta blockers is helpful in acute situations
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most effective type of psychotherapy for anxiety.
  • Exposure based CBT - Gradually decreases situation related anxiety.
  • Lifestyle changes like
    • Learn stress management techniques
    • Physical exercise or be physically active on a regular basis
    • Avoid alcohol and limit caffeine
    • Participate in social situations by reaching out to people with whom you feel comfortable
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