• Social Anxiety Disorder

    (Social Phobia)


    Social anxiety disorder is the intense fear of social situations. People with social anxiety disorder:
    • Avoid interactions with other people
    • Are extremely afraid of being judged negatively by others
    • Feel humiliated, embarrassed, and inadequate more easily than others
    Social anxiety may be:
    • Generalized to all social interactions
    • Specific to certain social situations, such as public speaking
    Social anxiety disorder is much more severe than shyness. It can interfere with work, school, or other situations, as well as cause physical symptoms.
    Physical Reactions of Anxiety
    Physical reaction anxiety
    © 2011 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    The exact cause is unknown. Possible causes include:
    • Genetic factors
    • Problems with the regulation of chemicals in the brain
    • Past emotional trauma in social situations

    Risk Factors

    Social anxiety disorder is most common in adolescence and early adulthood. Factors that increase your chance for social anxiety disorder include:


    Symptoms may begin in any public situation such as:
    • Being teased or criticized
    • Being the center of attention
    • Meeting new people
    • Interacting with authority figures
    • Interacting with members of the opposite sex
    • Eating, writing, or speaking in public
    • Using public toilets
    Symptoms during these social interactions may include:
    • Blushing
    • Excessive sweating
    • Trembling
    • Dry throat and mouth
    • Muscle twitches
    • Rapid heart beat
    • Lightheadness


    You will be asked about your fears and symptoms. A physical exam may be done. You may be referred to a mental health specialist. A psychiatric evaluation may be done.


    Treatments may include:

    Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

    During cognitive-behavioral therapy , the therapist may:
    • Help you change your negative thought patterns and behaviors
    • Teach you techniques to help you control anxiety symptoms, such as deep breathing, visualization, and meditation
    • Suggest changes to your social environment to minimize stress
    • Gradually expose you to feared situations in a controlled environment
    A support group may also be part of your treatment.


    The following medications may be used to help control symptoms:
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or other antidepressants—to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression
    • Beta-blockers—to stop the physical symptoms of panic and anxiety (has been used to relieve the performance anxiety that often occurs with social anxiety disorder)
    Other medications may include:
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Anticonvulsants


    There are no guidelines for preventing social anxiety disorder. But early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications, such as:
    • Drug abuse
    • Depression
    • Difficulties at school, work, or in your personal life


    Anxiety and Depression Association of America http://www.adaa.org

    Social Anxiety Association http://www.socialphobia.org


    Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org

    Canadian Psychological Association http://www.cpa.ca


    Antidepressant use in children, adolescents, and adults. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/UCM096273. Updated August 12, 2010. Accessed November 11, 2014.

    Social anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 29, 2014. Accessed November 11, 2014.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.