Social Anxiety Disorder

social phobia
What is social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder, formerly known as social phobia, is a strong fear of being embarrassed and judged by others that disrupts performing everyday tasks in social situations. Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults.

What isn’t social anxiety disorder?

Everyone worries about what other people think of them from time to time. Getting stressed or anxious before a meeting or a date is perfectly normal. Social anxiety disorder is characterized by fear of others judging you for common, trivial behaviors. For instance, people with a social anxiety disorder may experience severe anxiety while ordering a cup of coffee or using a public restroom.

What are the official diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder?

According to the DSM 5, someone diagnosed with social anxiety disorder has “a persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others.The individual fears that he or she will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be embarrassing or humiliating.” The DSM 5 also states that the social situation causes anxiety and the individual will often try to avoid the situation all together or be extremely distressed and anxious if they encounter it. In order to be officially diagnosed, persistent fear, anxiety, and avoidance of the social situation must last at least six months. People who suffer from this often have other anxiety disorders, depression and/or substance abuse problems, which serve as manifestations of the original social anxieties.

What does social anxiety disorder look like?

People who have social phobia tend to be anxious and have a hard time communicating with others. They may tremble, sweat or blush when in groups. In more extreme cases, they may seem visibly nauseous and may have panic attacks in large social situations. They avoid situations such as social interactions, being observed, and performing in front of others.

How does social anxiety disorder impact someone in daily life?

People suffering from social anxiety disorder may avoid going to certain places and social events if they believe that they will be crowded and full of people with whom they may have to socialize. Sometimes they will suffer through social interactions but doing so will cause them extreme inner turmoil. They also may have a hard time making friends since they worry about what others think of them, resulting in them having little to no social support from others.

What are some treatments available at Union Square Practice for social anxiety disorder?

Psychotherapy and psychopharmacology are common methods used to alleviate the symptoms of social anxiety disorder, either separately or together. One form of psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is a treatment style that teaches the patient new ways of assessing situations and coping with them in a positive way. Our staff of psychiatrists and psychologists here at Union Square Practice is trained to treat social anxiety disorder in a variety of ways and prioritize choosing a pace that is comfortable for each client.