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Social Anxiety Disorder


What is social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is a condition that causes you to feel anxious in social situations. It is also called social phobia. You may fear that people are watching or judging you. The fear can cause problems with work, school, or other daily activities. Your fear may be limited to 1 or 2 situations, such as public speaking or performing. You may have fear in almost all situations where you may have contact with people. The fear may be present days or weeks before the situation occurs. Simply thinking about a coming event may cause anxiety symptoms.

What causes social anxiety disorder?

The cause is not known. Signs and symptoms may begin as early as 5 years old but is usually seen in teenage years. Events may have occurred during these years that continue to cause you anxiety as an adult. Your risk also increases if you have a chemical imbalance or you were raised around others with social anxiety.

What are the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder?

  • Blushing, sweating, shaking, trembling, muscle tenseness, or a pounding heart
  • Shaky voice or dry mouth
  • Extreme fear of situations that involve meeting or performing for people
  • Extreme fear that you will be embarrassed or shamed
  • Anxiety or panic when you are about to be in a social situation
  • Anxiety that seems like overreacting to others
  • Desire to stay away from social situations

How is social anxiety disorder diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and when they began. He will ask what triggers your panic and if fear limits your daily activities. He will also ask about your medical history and if any family members have a similar condition. He may ask about your past and present alcohol or drug use.

How is social anxiety disorder treated?

  • Therapy may help you learn to face the feared object or situation slowly and carefully. You also learn to control the mental and physical reactions of fear. Talk therapy may help you learn how to ask for what you need, set limits, and say no. You may meet with a therapist alone, with your family, or in a group setting.
  • Medicines may be given to decrease anxiety.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have chest pain, tightness, or pressure that may spread to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.
  • You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You feel like fainting or are lightheaded or too dizzy to stand up.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have new symptoms since your last visit.
  • Your symptoms get worse or do not get better with treatment.
  • Your anxiety makes you unable to work or to care for yourself or your family.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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