Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is a common type of anxiety disorder that affects approximately 15 million adults living in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it is characterized by “an intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.”
There is no exact known cause for social anxiety disorder; although, it is believed that genetics play a significant role. Social phobia is also linked to having an overactive amygdala; the part of the brain that controls our response to fear. Others factors believed to contribute to the disorder are a history of abuse or bullying.
The onset of social anxiety disorder typically begins in the early to mid –teens; however, it can also occur in young children and adults.
Those with social anxiety disorder often experience physical symptoms associated with fear or anxiety in social situations. These symptoms may include rapid heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension, sweating or nausea.
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder can profoundly affect an individual’s ability to live a normal life. Those affected often avoid or have trouble with normal, day-to-day social situations such as making eye contact, entering rooms where there are people, using public restrooms, eating in front of people or going to work or school.
These behaviors are often indicative of a more serious problem that could be developing as a result of social anxiety disorder. If left unaddressed, social phobia can lead to low self-esteem, negative thoughts, depression, substance abuse or suicide.
The best approach to treating social anxiety disorder is to receive assistance from a mental health professional. They will be able to assess your health to determine whether you have a social anxiety disorder or other mental health conditions. As part of your treatment, a mental health professional may recommend psychotherapy or medications. They may also suggest implementing lifestyle changes such as exercising, learning stress reduction skills or participating in support groups.
To make an appointment or to speak with a mental health provider at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5575.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.