Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as Social Phobia) involves a marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples can include social interactions (e.g., having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people), being observed (e.g., eating or drinking) and performing in front of others (e.g., giving a speech).
Social anxiety includes a fear that the individual will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated (i.e., their behaviour or anxiety symptoms such as sweating, shaking, a ‘quaky voice’ etc. will be humiliating or embarrassing; and is likely to lead to rejection by others or cause offence).
These social situations almost always provoke fear or anxiety and are either avoided or endured with intense fear and anxiety.
The fear and anxiety provoked is also out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social situation. The fear and/or avoidance is also persistent and lasts for a period of six months or more.
Anxiety in social situations is not by itself abnormal, however in cases of Social Anxiety Disorder the severity of fear and anxiety is extremely intense and also may cause difficulties for the person in social activities and/or in upholding work responsibilities (or may cause difficulties in other areas of functioning).
Social Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed only if it’s clear that legal or illegal drug use is not causing the excessive fear and anxiety in social situations.
Disclaimer: The information covered on this website is for educational purposes only. Other disorders including Panic Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder or Autism can share symptoms in common with Social Anxiety Disorder, so it’s important to speak with your GP or a psychologist about your concerns to clarify what you’re experiencing and to receive appropriate treatment. A diagnosis of any psychiatric or medical condition must only be made by a medical or mental health specialist. Diagnosing a psychiatric concern is a complex process that involves formal training, do not ‘diagnose’ yourself.
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