• What
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosed
  • Treatment

What is Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia?

Social anxiety disorder is commonly known as social phobia. It is a type of anxiety disorder which causes the victim to experience extreme fear in social settings. Victims with this disorder have issues with interacting with people, meeting new people, and attending social gathering. Victims always feel that they will be judged by others. Victims may recognize that they are facing unreasonable fears, yet they feel powerless to overcome it.

Social anxiety is completely different from shyness. Shyness is short-term and does not disturb one’s life; however social anxiety is unrelenting and devastating. It totally affects a person’s ability to:

  • Work
  • Attend school
  • Develop intimate relationship outside the family

What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?

The correct cause for social anxiety disorder is unknown till this date. However therapists believe that it’s a combination of environmental and genetical factors. Along with it, negative experience also adds up to this condition, which includes:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Family conflict
  • Bullying

Physical abnormalities can lead to the condition such as serotonin imbalance. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain which helps to adjust the mood. An overactive amygdala can lead to the condition. It’s a structure in the brain which controls the response for fear, feelings or anxiety thoughts

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Victim with social phobia may experience the following physical symptoms during a social interaction:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Blushing
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty speaking

Psychological symptoms may include:

  • Worrying deeply about social situations
  • Worrying for a long time for an upcoming event
  • Avoiding social situations or blending into background
  • Worrying about embarrassing oneself
  • Worrying that others will notice your are nervous
  • Having a drink to face a social event
  • Missing school or work because of anxiety

Feeling anxious is normal. However, a victim with social phobia constantly has a fear of being judged by others or to get oneself embarrassed in front of others. Victim tries to avoid all these social situations, which includes but not limited to:

  • Asking and answering questions
  • Job interviews
  • Shopping
  • Eating in public
  • Talking on the phone
  • Using public restrooms

Symptoms of social anxiety may not show at every situation, the victim experiences a limited or selective anxiety. For instance: symptoms are only triggered when the victim have to eat in front of people or need to make a conversation with strangers. Victim experiences the symptoms in all social situations if the victim experiences an extreme or broad case.

Diagnosing Social Anxiety Disorder

To check social phobia, there are no medical test available. Consultant psychologist may diagnose the victim for social anxiety disorder from the description of the symptoms, the victim experiences. With few certain behaviour patterns, social anxiety disorders are diagnosed.

Consultant psychologist may ask the victim to explain about the symptoms and at what situations are these symptoms triggered. The reasons for social anxiety disorder include:

  • A constant fear of social situations which can lead to humiliation
  • Feeling anxiety or panic prior to social interaction
  • Realization of unreasonable fear
  • Anxiety which disrupts your daily life

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Several types of treatments are available and their results vary from one victim to another. Few victims just require one type of treatment; on the other hand, others require more than one.

Treatment options which are available for social anxiety disorder includes:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy: Victims tries learns to control anxiety with relaxation and breathing techniques. Victims try to learn to eliminate negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Exposure therapy: Victim tries to learn gradually on facing any social situations, instead of avoiding them.
  • Group therapy: Victim tries to learn social skills and techniques so that they can interact with strangers in social settings. When interacting with other victims who too face the fear of meeting strangers helps the victim to feel less alone. With the help of role playing practices, the victim learns the new social skills to interact with strangers and social settings.

Treatments which needed to be done at home include:

  • Avoiding caffeine: Avoiding foods such as coffee, soda, chocolate which are anxiety stimulants
  • Getting plenty of sleep (at least 8 hours a day): Lack of sleep can increase the anxiety in the victim and thus worsens the symptoms of the victim

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Victims of social anxiety disorder depend on drugs and alcohol to deal with social interactions which triggers anxiety. If it’s not treated in time, it can lead to other high-risk behaviours, which includes:

  • Loneliness
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Suicide tendency

With the help of therapy, change in lifestyle and medication, victims are able to cope up with anxiety which arises while interacting in social settings. Victim may be able to interact with people, feel calmer and more confident in social situations, although it may take weeks or months of psychotherapy.

Victim can keep their fear under control by:

  • Identifying the causes which triggers the victim to feel anxiety or nervousness
  • Practicing breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Taking medication as per the prescription


We’ve experienced practising clinical hypnotherapist, consultant psychologist and Forensic Hypnologist in our team to work with people with a full range of mental health problems and emotional distress.

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