Social Anxiety Disorder & Social Phobia

Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is anxiety about social situations, meeting new people and fear of being watched. In such situations people are exceedingly self conscious and can never relax in public. They always feel that they are being watched, stared and judged. This chronic and persistent fear grows even more intense if the situation is unfamiliar.

This disorder could be a part of the development of social functioning in growing up days and may go unnoticed. The situations people feel anxiety in can differ from people to people.

“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.”

Psychological Symptoms:

o Worrying for days, weeks, or even months before any social situation.

o Fear of being watched or judged by others.

o Excessive self-consciousness, nervousness and anxiety in social situations.

o Fear that others will notice that you’re nervous.

o Fear of getting embarrassed or humiliated.

Physical Symptoms:

o Pounding heart or tight chest

o Shaky voice and rapid breathing

o Sweating or blushing

o Upset stomach, nausea

o Dry mouth, trembling or shaking

o Muscle tension

o Dizziness, feeling faint

o Clammy hands or twitching

Treatment

Like any kind of mental situation, there is no hard and fast rule of treating anxiety disorder. The first thing to do in this case would be to consult a physician and determine whether the symptoms are due to anxiety disorder or not.

Lifestyle Changes: Even though only bringing changes in lifestyle might not help in overcoming anxiety disorder, it’s a great help in addition to the therapy or medication. Try making these necessary changes while trying to fight anxiety disorder:

o Avoid Coffee, tea, caffeinated soda, energy drinks, and chocolate.

o Alcohol should be taken in moderation.

o Quit Smoking

o Proper sleep

Medication: Though medication helps in relieving the symptoms of anxiety disorder, they should be only taken in addition to the therapy or self help methods. The following three medications are used for the treatment:

o Beta blockers

o Antidepressants

o Benzodiazepines

Therapy:

CBT or cognitive-behavioral therapy is by far the best known treatment for social anxiety. It works on the theory that what you think affects how you feel, and your feelings affect your behavior. It involves

– Trying relaxation and breathing techniques to control the physical symptoms of anxiety.

– Challenging the negative thoughts that fuel social anxiety and replacing them with balanced and positive views.

– Facing the situations in a gradual and systematic manner than avoiding them completely.

For any kind of anxiety disorder treatment, the family plays a very important role. The family should be supportive and try helping the patient under the guidance of his doctor.