Anxiety Home > Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is a condition in which an individual feels overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness during normal social situations. These people often have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being judged by others and being humiliated by their own actions. Approximately 5.3 million adult Americans have this condition, but it can be treated successfully with carefully targeted psychotherapy or medications.

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. People with the condition have a persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated by their actions. Their fear may be so severe that it interferes with:
 
  • Social relationships
  • Work or school
  • Other ordinary activities.
     
While many people with social anxiety disorder 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.
 

Types of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder can be limited to only one type of situation, such as a fear of speaking in public or eating or drinking in front of others. In its most severe form, the condition may be so broad that people experience symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.
 
Social anxiety disorder can be debilitating -- it may even keep people from going to work or school on some days. Many people with this illness have a hard time making and keeping friends.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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