Social Anxiety Disorder
What is Social Phobia?
Many people are uncomfortable in social situations, but for about 1 out of 10 Americans, the discomfort rises to the level of clinically signiﬁcant anxiety. Sometimes referred to as “social phobia”, social anxiety disorder can cause individuals to avoid a wide range of social situations.
When interacting with a group of people, people with social anxiety can experience an overwhelming sense of fright or panic; are excessively concerned about scrutiny, embarrassment,or humiliation; and are preoccupied about how how others perceive them and what others think of them.
There are several types of Social Anxiety Disorders and the good news is that all of them are treatable. The gold standard for treating social anxiety is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It has a very high success rate! The irony though is that many people with social anxiety to not participate in this treatment. I’m not sure exactly why. Perhaps there is a lack of therapists who are well trained in CBT. Or perhaps people are simply fearful of anxiety treatment. I’ve noticed in my own practice that highly anxious people always want to know exactly how therapy will work and what exactly I will do to get rid of their anxiety. Then, when I explain that therapy is a process that has many components and that we can’t predict ahead of time exactly which of these components will work for them, my new anxiety therapy clients seem visibly uneasy with this uncertainty. So, my hunch is that this fear of uncertainty actually keeps people away from the very anxiety counseling that would help them.
Social Anxiety in Children and Adolescents
In addition to adults, children and adolescents also commonly suffer from social anxiety. Often, we think of those children as “shy”, but shyness is just another way of describing social anxiety. A shy person’s discomfort may not meet criteria for diagnosis as a social anxiety disorder, but left unaddressed it will likely develop into that.
Are you comfortable at parties and in group settings?
Do you feel nervous when meeting new people?
Is it difficult from you to speak in front of a group?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you likely have some social anxiety that can be reduced with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.