What is Social Phobia?

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Social phobia is sometimes called Social Anxiety Disorder. Social Phobia is not just shyness; it is more severe than this. With social phobia you get very anxious about what other people may think of you, or how they may judge you. As a result you have great difficulty in social situations, which can affect your day-to-day life.

Symptoms of Social Phobia

  • A marked fear or dread of social situations. You fear that you will act in an embarrassing or humiliating way and that other people will think you are stupid, inadequate, foolish, etc.

    • In some cases the fear is only for certain situations where you will be looked at by others even if they are known to you. For example, you become very anxious if you have to ‘perform’ in some way such as give a talk or presentation; take part in discussion at work or school, etc. But, you are ok in informal social gatherings.

    • In other cases the fear occurs for most social situations where you may meet strangers. This can even include eating in public places, as you fear you may act in an embarrassing way.

    • You may have weeks of anxiety prior to a social event or an event where you have to ‘perform’.

    • You avoid such situations as much as possible.

    • If you go to the feared situation you:

      • Become very anxious and distressed.

      • May develop some physical symptoms of anxiety such as: Fast heart rate, palpitations, shaking (tremors), sweating, feeling sick, chest pain, headache, stomach pains, a ‘knot in the stomach’, fast breathing.

      • May blush easily.

      • May have an intense desire to get away from the situation.

      • May even have a panic attack.

      • However, you will usually know that your fear and anxiety is excessive and unreasonable.

Social phobia can greatly affect your life. You may not do as well at school or work as you might have done, as you tend to avoid any group work, discussions, etc. You may find it hard to get or keep a job as you may not be able to cope with social aspects needed for many jobs such as meeting with people. You may become socially isolated and find it difficult to make friends.

People prone to SocialPhobia

It is one of the most common mental health conditions. Up to 1 in 10 adults have Social Phobia to some degree. It usually develops in the teenage years and usually a lifelong problem unless treated. Just over twice as many women are affected than men.


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