Dr. Kanchan Dilawari 02-02-2016 Consult
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. Anxiety (intense nervousness) and self-consciousness arise from the fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others.
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 may be made worse by lack of social skills or experience in social situations. The anxiety can build up into a panic attack. As a result of this fear, the person endures certain social situations in extreme distress or may avoid them altogether. In addition, people with social anxiety disorder often suffer "anticipatory" anxiety -- the fear of a situation before it even happens -- for days or weeks before the event. In many cases, the person is aware that the fear is unreasonable, yet is unable to overcome it. 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.
People with social anxiety disorder may be afraid of a specific situation, such as speaking in public. However, most people with social anxiety disorder fear more than one social situation. Other situations that commonly provoke anxiety include 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 etc. Social anxiety disorder may be linked to other mental illnesses, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression. In fact, many people with social anxiety disorder initially see the doctor with complaints related to these disorders, not because of social anxiety symptoms.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
Many people with social anxiety disorder feel that there is "something wrong," but don't recognize their feeling as a sign of illness. Symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include:
Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder
There is no single known cause of social anxiety disorder, but research suggests that biological, psychological, and environmental factors may play a role in its development.
How Is Social Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?
If symptoms of social anxiety disorder are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by asking questions about your medical history and performing a physical exam. Although there are no lab tests to specifically diagnose social anxiety disorder, the doctor may use various tests to make sure that a physical illness isn't the cause of the symptoms.
If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for an anxiety disorder. The doctor bases his or her diagnosis of social anxiety disorder on reports of the intensity and duration of symptoms, including any problems with functioning caused by the symptoms. The doctor then determines if the symptoms and degree of dysfunction indicate social anxiety disorder.
How Is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated?
For social anxiety disorder, the most effective treatment currently available is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Medication may also be used to help ease the symptoms of social anxiety disorder so that CBT is more effective. Drugs may also be used alone.
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