Social Anxiety

 

Social anxiety disorder is the irrational fear of making mistakes and being embarrassed or humiliated in front of others.

 

Social anxiety disorder, is seen in a person who shows excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. This anxiety – characterized by intense nervousness – and self-consciousness will normally arises from a psychotic fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others. People afflicted with social anxiety disorder believe they will make mistakes in public and then be embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. This fear is much worse in a person with poor social skills in social situations. Many times the anxiety will accelerate into a panic attack. As a result of this fear, sufferers endure extreme distress in social settings and will try to avoid them altogether. They will also suffer from what is known as ‘anticipatory’ anxiety, or a fear of a situation before the event even happens. In many cases, people who endure social anxiety are fully aware that the fear is unreasonable, yet they are unable to overcome it.

Situations that commonly provoke a reaction include:

  • Eating or drinking in front of others
  • Writing or working in front of others
  • Speaking 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

 

Cause

Social anxiety disorder has no single known cause but research suggests that there are physical, psychological, and environmental factors that may affect its development:

  • Physical: May be related to an imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Neurotransmitters are special chemical messengers that help move information from nerve cell to nerve cell in the brain. If the neurotransmitters are out of balance, messages cannot get through the brain properly. This can alter the way the brain reacts to stressful situations, leading to anxiety. Social anxiety disorder can also run in families, meaning that the disorder may be passed on in families through genes.
  • Psychological: Development of social anxiety disorder may result from an embarrassing or humiliating experience at a social event in the past. A single traumatic event can contribute to the disorder as well.
  • Environmental: condition develops from the fear of seeing what happened to someone else as the result of that behavior, such as, being the center of ridicule. Sometimes children who are very sheltered or overprotected by their parents at a young age may not have learned acceptable social skills as part of their development. As a result of this sheltering, anxiety disorders may develop with age.

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