Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Social phobia, also called social anxiety, is a disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions. Their fear may be so severe that it interferes with work or school - and other ordinary activities. While many people with social phobia recognize that their fear of being around people may be excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome it. They often worry for days or weeks in advance of a dreaded situation.
Many of us get worried before meeting new people, but we find that once we are with them,we can cope and even enjoy the situation. However, some of us become very anxious aboutthese situations. At best, we cannot enjoy them and, at worst, we may have to avoid themaltogether. This is what doctors and psychologists call social phobia.
We do not yet know exactly what causes social phobia, although some of the possible(but not definite) factors have been identified. Research has indicated that some geneticfactors may play a role in the development of social phobia. It has been suggested thatthese genetic factors may predispose an individual to developing social phobia, but thatindividuals with these genetics will not always develop the condition. It should be notedthat these genetic factors only put someone at greater risk of developing social phobiabut do not directly cause it. Another theory is that very socially anxious people are morebiologically sensitive to stress, but the argument of whether people are anxious becausethey are sensitive or sensitive because they are anxious must be considered. Also,people experiencing social phobia often have parents with various anxiety problems,including and excluding social phobia. It is possible that anxious thinking styles areinherited from parents or learnt from significant people in the early stages ofdevelopment. People experiencing social phobia also often report that their parentswere overly protective of them and this may increase a sense of vulnerability andtherefore anxiety. Another point worth considering is the fact that people experiencingsocial phobia often report being bullied or abused when they were younger, but not allof them do. It is not clear if they are more susceptible to abuse because of existingsocial fears or if their social fears directly develop as a consequence of abuse. In thecase of the former it should be noted that susceptibility does not mean that it is theperson's fault that they were abused. That responsibility lies in the hands of the abuser.
It is estimated that around three per cent of the world population experience social phobia in any one year. Up to 13 per cent of the population may develop social phobia during their lifetime. Men and women are equally affected, though a higher number of men seek treatment.
In many cases, social phobia begins with shyness in childhood and progresses during adolescence. The onset of social phobia generally occurs around ages 11 to 15. Social phobia is also known as social anxiety disorder.
It may be that social phobia is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. One view is that some people are genetically predisposed to develop social phobia but that the onset of the disorder is triggered by a specific event. For example, people who suffer from social anxiety can quite often identify a particular experience at school when they felt exposed or humiliated in a public situation, in front of other pupils and/or teachers, and this may have triggered the start of their social phobia.
Some investigations implicate a smallstructure in the brain called the amygdala inthe symptoms of social phobia. Theamygdala is believed to be a central site inthe brain that controls fear responses.
High levels of anxiety about public speaking.
Anxiety about meeting people in groups.
Extreme feelings of inferiority or inadequacy and a sense that other people are more intelligent than you or that you have nothing to say to them that will be of value.
High levels of sensitivity to criticism from others.
Physical symptoms such as sweating, blushing, stammering or shaking when thinking about having to take part in a situation about which you are nervous.
Perfectionist tendencies, believing that unless you to do something perfectly you have failed.
Extreme worry in public places such as at meetings, work or when shopping that other people will be watching you and finding fault with you.
Animal studies are adding to theevidence that suggests social phobia can beinherited. In fact, researchers supported bythe national institute of mental health(NIMH) recently identified the site of a genein mice that affects learned fearfulness.
One line of research is investigating abiochemical basis for the disorder. Scientistsare exploring the idea that heightened.
Your doctor will ask about your fears and symptoms. A physical exam may be done. You may be referred to a mental health professional. They may conduct a psychiatric evaluation.
There are a number of medications that have proven useful for treating social anxiety disorder. These medications include antidepressants, which are also commonly used to treat depression, and anti anxiety medications. In addition, some recent studies have suggested that gabapentin (Neurontin) may be useful for reducing symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Although beta-adrenergic blockers or “beta blockers” (e.g., propranolol [Inderal] and atenolol [Tenormin]) are sometimes used for treating stage fright in actors and musicians, there are no studies supporting the use of these medications in social anxiety disorder. Examples of effective antidepressants and antianxiety medications for social anxiety disorder are listed below:
Type of Medication Generic Name Brand Name:
Other Antidepressants Nefazodone.
Antianxiety Medications Alprazolam
Klonapin or Rivotril.
SSRI Antidepressants Citalopram.
Your doctor should be able to advise you on whether or not medication may be helpful in your situation if you suffer from social phobia - antidepressants, benzodiazepines or beta-blocker are sometimes prescribed. Each may have side effects and should not be taken without appropriate medical advice and doctor's prescription.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): As with many anxiety disorders, the main component of social phobia is negative thinking. For this reason, CBT is effective in treating social phobia. This therapy involves gradual exposure of social phobics to social situations which would usually cause distress. The first stage involves introducing the social phobic to the feared situation. The second stage is about building up the risk of disapproval in that situation so that the social phobic can build confidence to enable them to handle rejection or criticism. The third stage involves teaching the social phobic techniques to allow them to cope with disapproval. To do this, they are taught to develop constructive responses to their fears and perceived disapproval.
CBT also includes anxiety management training - teaching people techniques such as relaxation and breathing exercises to help control their levels of anxiety. The other important component of CBT is helping people to identify negative thought processes and enabling them to develop more realistic rational thoughts.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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