Understanding Social Anxiety

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Social anxiety disorder, often known as social phobia, is characterized by acute worry or dread of being assessed, adversely evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance context. People suffering from social anxiety disorder may be concerned about acting or appearing outwardly worried (e.g., blushing, tripping over words) or perceived as foolish, awkward, or uninteresting. As a result, they frequently avoid social or performance settings, and when they cannot avoid a scenario, they experience severe worry and anguish. Many people with a social anxiety disorder also have severe physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, nausea, and sweating. They may have full-fledged panic attacks when confronted with a frightening circumstance. People with social anxiety disorder frequently feel powerless in the face of their anxiety, although they realize that their dread is excessive and illogical.

Social anxiety disorder affects roughly 15 million American adults and is the second most prevalent anxiety disorder diagnosed after specific phobia. The average age of start for social anxiety disorder is early adolescence. Although people with social anxiety disorder frequently recall being extremely timid as children, it is vital to stress that this illness is more than just shyness. Learn more about the distinction.

Social anxiety disorder can have a devastating impact on the lives of individuals who suffer from it. Individuals may, for example, decline a job offer that demands frequent interaction with new people or avoid going out to dinner with friends because they are afraid their hands may shake while eating or drinking. Symptoms might be so severe that they interfere with daily routines, occupational performance, or social life, making it difficult to complete education, apply for and obtain a job, and maintain friendships and love relationships. People with social anxiety disorder are also more likely to develop major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorders.

Despite the availability of effective treatments, less than 5% of people with social anxiety disorder seek therapy within a year of the condition’s beginning, and more than a third report symptoms for ten years or more before seeking care.

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