Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) is characterized by a persistent and uncontrollable fear of social situations, including situations where one is expected to perform. People with this disorder have an irrational fear that they will be embarrassed, scrutinized, judged, or humiliated in public. Speaking in public, eating in public, using public lavatories, or virtually any other activity that might be carried out in the presence of others can elicit extreme anxiety. When exposed to these situations, these individuals are likely to experience extreme levels of anxiety or panic attacks. Social Phobia is diagnosed only if the fear intrudes in the social or occupational functioning of the individual.
What are Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?
Common symptoms among individuals with this disorder include hypersensitivity to evaluation, criticism and rejection, as well as difficulty being assertive. People with social anxiety disorder often experience low self-esteem and may have poor social skills. They sometimes engage in visible signs of anxiety such as cold clammy hands, tremors and shaky voice. Students with social phobia tend to be underachievers as they have test anxiety and also avoid participating in class activities. Adults with this disorder tend to be underachievers at work as they shy away from speaking in groups or to authority figures. These individuals tend not to have much social support and are likely to remain single. In severe cases, this individuals may drop out of school or be unemployed.
Among children, social phobia may be presented as crying tantrums, freezing, clinging to a familiar person and even refusing to talk altogether. Young children may be extremely timid and avoiding playing with other children.
Other anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, and substance use disorders, are often seen among individuals with social anxiety disorder.