Learning More About Social Phobia
Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation, such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations or eating, drinking, or writing in front of others. However, in its most severe form, this disorder may be so broad that people experience symptoms almost anytime they are around other people.
Social phobia 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.
Physical symptoms often accompany the intense anxiety of social phobia and include:
- Profuse sweating
- Difficulty talking.
If you suffer from social phobia, you may be painfully embarrassed by these symptoms and feel as though all eyes are focused on you. You may be afraid of being with people other than your family.
People with social phobia are aware that their feelings are irrational. Even if they manage to confront what they fear, they usually feel extremely anxious beforehand and are intensely uncomfortable throughout. Afterward, the unpleasant feelings may linger, as they worry about how they may have been judged or what others may have thought or observed about them.
Social phobia affects about 5.3 million adult Americans. Women and men are equally likely to develop the condition. The disorder usually begins in childhood or early adolescence, and there is some evidence that genetic factors are involved.
Social phobia often co-occurs with other anxiety disorders or depression. Substance abuse or dependence may develop in individuals who attempt to "self-medicate" their condition by drinking or using drugs.
Social phobia can be treated successfully with carefully targeted psychotherapy or medications.