Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) can be described as an extreme, persistent fear of being scrutinized or judged by others in social situations. This fear may lead to feelings of embarrassment, humiliation and self-consciousness. People who suffer from this condition feel powerless and depressed. These emotions often interfere with daily activities, such as school, work and personal relationships. The person might begin to withdraw socially or avoid situations in which he or she is afraid. Millions of Americans endure this devastating condition every day of their lives. There are several causes, symptoms and treatments.
Social anxiety disorder is the third most common mental disorder in the United States, following depression and alcoholism. An estimated 19.2 million Americans have social anxiety disorder (WebMD). Nearly 7% of Americans suffer from some form of anxiety at the present time (Richards). The average age of onset for this condition is usually during adolescence or young adulthood, but can arise at any age (WebMD). Although the person is aware that the fear is irrational, he or she feels powerless against their anxiety. They are terrified they will embarrass or humiliate themselves (ADAA).
Researchers have not found any definitive causes for social anxiety disorder. One possible cause is genetics. Anxiety disorders tend to run in families, which leads researchers to the conclusion that this disorder could be inherited through genes. Another belief is that this disorder may be related to an imbalance of a brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood and emotions, among other things (Mayo Clinic, 2011). Again, researchers
believe that other causes are stress and environmental factors. Studies indicate that women are more likely to develop the disorder than men (nimh).
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing social anxiety disorder. Negative experiences in childhood, such as bullying, rejection, family conflict or sexual abuse may be connected with this condition. Specific events in adulthood can trigger social anxiety disorder symptoms for the first time. Some triggers include giving a speech in public, meeting new people and witnessing the anxiety of other people. In addition, having a health condition like stuttering, facial disfigurement or Parkinson’s disease may also trigger feelings of self-consciousness (Mayo Clinic, 2011).
For instance, most people have felt shy or insecure on occasion, however, it does not interfere with their daily routines. On the other hand, people suffering from social anxiety disorder experience severe emotional, physical and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms hinder the person from functioning normally on a daily basis (Smith/Jaffe-Gill, 2014). Emotionally, the person fears being criticized and judged by others in everyday social situations. He or she is scared that they might embarrass or humiliate themselves. Frequently, when speaking in...