Social Anxiety Disorder

What is social anxiety disorder?

People with social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) are extremely anxious about what they will say or do in front of other people. This includes public speaking and day-to-day social situations. But it is more than just being shy or nervous before public speaking. The fear can begin weeks or months before an event. It can cause a fast heartbeat and make it hard to focus.

Some people fear only one or a few types of social situations. For other people, many situations cause stress. This problem affects your daily life. You may be so stressed or afraid that you avoid public situations, including missing work and school.

What causes social anxiety disorder?

Doctors don’t know what causes social anxiety disorder. They think it may run in families, but they are not sure if it’s because of genetics or a response to a traumatic situation.

What are the symptoms?

Social anxiety disorder causes both emotional and physical symptoms:

It can make you nervous, sad, or easily upset before or during a social event. You may worry a lot or be afraid that something bad will happen.
The anxiety can cause you to blush, sweat, and feel shaky. Your heart may beat faster than normal, and you may have a hard time focusing.
How is it treated?

Treatment of social anxiety disorder includes counseling and sometimes medicine, such as antidepressants. Whether you need medicine depends on how much the problem affects your daily life. If you already feel anxious around other people, it may be hard to ask for help. But treatment for social anxiety disorder works for many people.

Some people with social anxiety disorder turn to alcohol or drugs to help them relax. This can lead to addiction problems. They may also have depression. It is important to treat these issues too.