Social Anxiety Treatment Center
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is an anxiety disorder in which a person experiences an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. Anxiety and self-consciousness arise from a fear of being judged, watched and criticized by others. The anxiety may also result from a lack of social skills or experience in social situations.
An individual suffering from social anxiety disorder may begin to avoid social situations altogether.Those with social anxiety disorder often suffer from “anticipatory” anxiety, the fear of a situation before it even happens, for days or weeks prior to an event. They may be aware that their fear is unreasonable, but remain unable to overcome it.
Social Anxiety Statistics
Millions of people suffer from either a specific social anxiety, or from a generalized social anxiety. It is estimated that between 7 and 8 percent of the U.S population suffers from some form of social anxiety. The lifetime prevalence rate for developing social anxiety disorder is between 13 and 14 percent. Social anxiety disorder may be linked to other mental health disorders such as such aspanic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression disorders.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
People suffering from social anxiety disorder can experience significant emotional distress in the following situations:
- Being introduced to new people
- Being in large groups of people
- Being teased or criticized
- Being the center of attention
- Being watched while doing something
- Meeting authority figures
- Most social encounters, especially with strangers
- Going around the room, or table, in a circle and having to say something
- Eating or drinking in front of others
- Writing or working in front of others
- Being the center of attention.Interacting with people, including dating or going to parties
- Asking questions or giving reports in groups
- Using public toilets
- Talking on the telephone
The Physiological Symptoms
The physiological symptoms that can accompany social anxiety may include:
- Constant and intense anxiety
- Intense fear
- Racing heart
- Turning red or blushing
- Excessive sweating
- Dry throat and mouth
- Swallowing with difficulty
- Muscle twitches
- Panic attack
Those 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 normal daily routine, including school, work, social activities, and relationships.
Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder
Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder is conducted using cognitive behavioral therapy. A successful program for social anxiety disorder must encompass cognitive methods, strategies and concepts that will allow for permanent change.
The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to guide the individual’s thoughts in a more rational direction and help the individual stop avoiding situations cause anxiety. It teaches skills that can be employed to react differently to the situations that trigger anxiety symptoms.
Therapy may include systematic desensitization or real life exposure to feared situations. With systematic desensitization, the individual imagines the frightening situation and works through his or her fears in a safe and relaxed environment, such as the therapist’s office. Real-life exposure gradually exposes the person to the situation with the support of the therapist.
Therapies that improve self-esteem and social skills, and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, may also help a person deal with social anxiety disorder.