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 may “feel powerless against their anxiety” (ADAA). 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.
Statistics show a significant rise in people being diagnosed with social anxiety disorder in the United States. As a 2012 article published by webmd.com points out, “social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder and the third most common mental disorder in the U.S., after depression and alcohol dependence.” Specific data included in the same article states that “an estimated 19.2 million Americans have social anxiety. The disorder most often surfaces in adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur at any time, including early childhood.” Furthermore, the article indicates that social anxiety disorder “…is more common in women than in men.”
According to a 2011 Mayo Clinic staff article supports research studies which believe one possible cause is genetics. These studies explain there are no definitive causes for social anxiety disorder, however, anxiety disorders “tend to run in families.” This evidence 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.” Again, researchers believe that other causes are stress and environmental factors.
Additionally, the 2011 Mayo Clinic article states that certain factors can increase the risk of developing social anxiety disorder. These include “negative experiences in childhood, such as teasing, bullying, rejection, ridicule of humiliation.” This article also states that specific events in adulthood can trigger social anxiety disorder symptoms for the first time. Some triggers include “meeting new people, giving a speech in public, and witnessing the anxiety of other people.” In addition, having a health condition like “facial disfigurement, stuttering, Parkinson’s disease and other health conditions” may also trigger feelings of self-consciousness.
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...