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Social Anxiety Disorder

Also called: Social Phobia

- Summary
- About social anxiety disorder
- Risk factors and causes
- Signs and symptoms
- Diagnosis methods
- Treatment options
- Prevention methods
- Questions for your doctor

Reviewed By:
Steven A. King, M.D.
Tahir Tellioglu, M.D., APA, AAAP

Summary

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person feels extremely anxious in some social situations and has a chronic fear of being judged by others. People with this condition also have an intense fear of embarrassing themselves. About 15 million adult Americans ages 18 and older suffer from social anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Some people with social anxiety disorder may experience extreme anxiety only in certain situations. Others with social anxiety disorder feel intense anxiety in most social situations, making it difficult to form and maintain relationships. Social anxiety disorder often begins in childhood or early adolescence and usually lasts throughout a person’s lifetime.

Patients with social anxiety disorder typically experience specific symptoms when confronted with an anxiety-provoking social situation. Such symptoms may include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, heart palpitations, muscle tension, nausea, diarrhea and/or difficulty talking. In some cases, symptoms may progress to a full-blown panic attack, a sudden brief episode of fear and anxiety.

Typically, social anxiety disorder is a condition that may flare up in cyclical fashion throughout a patient’s lifetime. A combination of medications and psychotherapy helps patients control their symptoms and lead more productive, fulfilling lives.

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Review Date: 08-22-2007
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