Social Anxiety Disorder Overview

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive fear and or avoidance of situations in which an individual believes he or she may be the subject of evaluation or scrutiny while interacting with other people or performing a specific task. The central theme of the disorder is the fear of negative evaluation by others. As a result, social situations are avoided or endured with great discomfort, leading to significant functional impairment.
Social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder, affecting 8% of the general population. The main cause is genetic. It usually starts in early life-average age 14. Social anxiety may be limited to specific situations, such as public speaking, or it may effect multiple situations and be generalized social anxiety.
There are several reasons that recognition and treatment are important: SAD has a significant impact on quality of life, both personal and occupational. Not only is there painful self-consciousness and
embarrassment, but anticipatory anxiety that sometimes lasts for weeks while awaiting a presentation or event. Social situations or events are often endured with great discomfort or avoided altogether.
Estimates are as high as 60% of alcohol problems are associated with self treatment of social anxiety.
Persons with SAD are more likely to be single and more likely to have lower levels of income and education.
Treatment involves medication, support, and desensitization. To get over social anxiety you have to confront the various situations and have them be OK. Forcing yourself to do it and suffering major embarrassment just reinforces a negative experience.
Medication can be used situationally for specific anxiety like public speaking, or on a regular basis for generalized social anxiety.

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