Social anxiety can severely limit your life.
- “In any social situation, I felt fear. I would be anxious before I even left the house, and it would escalate as I got closer to a college class, a party or whatever. I would feel sick in my stomach. It almost felt like I had the flu. My heart would pound, my palms would get sweaty, and I would get this feeling of being removed from myself and from everybody else.”
- “When I would walk into a room full of people, I’d turn red and it would feel like everybody’s eyes were on me. I was embarrassed to stand off in a corner by myself, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to anybody. It was humiliating. I felt so clumsy, I couldn’t wait to get out.”
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social phobia, also called Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), is diagnosed when people become overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations.
People with social anxiety have an intense, persistent and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and of doing things that will embarrass them.
They can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.
While many people with social phobia realize that their fears about being with people are excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome them.
Even if they manage to confront their fears and be around others, they are usually very anxious beforehand, are intensely uncomfortable throughout the encounter, and worry about how they were judged for hours afterward.
Social anxiety can be limited to one situation (such as talking to people, eating or drinking, or writing on a blackboard in front of others) or may be so broad (such as in generalized social phobia) that the person experiences anxiety around almost anyone outside of family.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety/Social Phobia
Physical symptoms that often accompany social phobia include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea and difficulty talking. When these symptoms occur, people with social anxiety feel as though all eyes are focused on them.
Am I alone?
Social phobia affects about 15 million American adults. Women and men are equally likely to develop the disorder, which usually begins in childhood or early adolescence. There is some evidence that genetic factors are involved.
Social phobia is often accompanied by other anxiety disorders or depression. Substance abuse may develop if people try to self-medicate their anxiety.
How is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated?
Social phobia can be successfully treated with psychotherapy, medication or both. During an initial visit we can determine what treatment course would be most helpful to you.