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What Is Social Phobia?

  • Publish Date : 2009/01/18 - (Rev. 2016/12/16)
  • Author : Gary M. Miller


Social phobia is one type of social phobia disorder that does not have to be suffered alone and it is treatable with the proper support and medical intervention.

Main Document

Social phobia is a mental health disorder that is difficult to understand because it is amongst the last anxiety conditions discovered by doctors. In fact, about 7% of people suffer from this condition, which can be debilitating and difficult for doctors to diagnose. Most are aware that their symptoms are not right, but unaware of exactly what they are suffering.

Considerable research has been done, but is not widely read by doctors, though psychiatrists are the most familiar.

The disorder is distinguished by feelings of apprehensive around others and nervousness. There is also a deep feeling of humiliation or embarrassment when a patient is faced with group or single social situations, so much so that they fear being watched or unpleasantly evaluated by others.

Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling of self-consciousness around others
  • Feeling that others are judging or staring at you
  • Feeling that others see your nervousness
  • The inability to relax around others
  • A fear of being seen as stupid

Avoidance of most social interactions or the need to endure a lot of distress if socializing.

  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Trembling
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Breathing problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Physical tingling
  • Lack of concentration
  • Weakness of the legs
  • Urge to urinate frequently
  • Blushing
  • Twitching of muscles

There are many possible causes for social phobia, but some of them appear to result from bad experiences, possibly during childhood, such as bullying, parental rejection or teasing. Some people, most especially teenagers, may become shy as they get older or possibly even socially restrained.

Generally speaking, social phobia starts in the later teenage years and continues on into adulthood. The person can suffer from the inability to interact with others and therefore not experience normal situations whereby they can assess others reactions towards them.

Most people will try to resolve social phobia by themselves by avoiding others, but the best steps initially include:

  • Developing an awareness of one's personal qualities and abilities and feeling confident in them and oneself
  • Learning that insecurities and fears are normal for everyone
  • Finding someone that one can trust to discuss one's feelings and anxiety with
  • Using breathing exercise to calm oneself when one feels anxious
  • Become aware that making mistakes is normal and that others will not be judging one as harshly as one does oneself

Social phobic sufferers must get professional help if their anxiety is starting to affect their daily lives. If the anxiety interferes with basic things like schooling, self-esteem and relationships with others then it is time to speak to your family doctor. In fact, professional help is as close as getting a referral from your family doctor to get counseling, psychiatric treatment or psycho educational support.

There are many online counseling services and support groups that help people suffering from anxiety disorders of all types. Some specifically deal with social phobia. These groups and counselors allow patients who do not want their doctors to become aware of their mental health issue to get the help they need without the further embarrassment and stigma that they may feel goes along with having a mental illness. Some useful supportive sites include the Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Association, the Social Phobia Network and Social Phobia Support.

Social phobia is one type of social phobia disorder that does not have to be suffered alone and it is treatable with the proper support and medical intervention. However, understanding that one is not the only one suffering this in the world and not judging oneself harshly for suffering it, as well as getting support and medical help are the best steps to ending the difficulties and debilitating affects it is having on one's life.

Getting help now from family, friends and one's family doctor is the only sure way to guarantee one's social phobia can be resolved.

  • The first step is in understanding that one has a disorder.
  • The second step is in understanding what the disorder is and why one has it.
  • The final step is making positive changes to rid oneself of the disorder forever.

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