Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Social anxiety disorder? Does it sound familiar? No, you might say. The terminology may not be very popular but studies have shown that Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) ranks to be the third largest mental health problem in the world, affecting seven percent of the total population. But what is this social phobia and why does it involve so many people?

Imagine this: Your friend hates eating out with you at your favorite fast food chain. She is afraid somebody will be watching and staring at her from somewhere. She just feels so conscious when she is in a public place and she sure will make a fool of herself around people. She simply cannot shake the feeling of super self consciousness.

You probably would just shrug her off, and think her idea is silly. Or, you may laugh at her and perhaps think she’s just kidding. Hold it, let me explain to you what’s going on with your hypothetical best friend.

All individuals have comparable concerns when asked to perform before an audience. The thought of having to say or of saying something inappropriate causes us to become self conscious and nervous. It is normal for people to become jittery given these circumstances. People with social phobia however; show extreme, irrational reactions and intensive anxiety that sets them apart with non-phobic. As they become more self conscious, the more their anxiety increases.

Social phobias involve a persistent fear of being in a social situation where they think people will notice something embarrassing about them, more so being humiliated and criticized. Some individuals have specific phobias such as public speaking or performing a musical instrument in front of an audience. Others, like our example, have a generalized avoidance of all social situations like falling in line in a grocery store, eating in public places or using public restrooms. These feelings do not manifest when the person is alone. It is the social aspect of the situation that brings about the anxiety even when the person is just thinking about it.

Researches show that people with social phobia tend also to have low self-esteem and underestimating their talents and areas of competence. It is therefore, clear that this disorder can impair a person’s normal emotional and social growth, even his/her occupational function. It's just something that is impossible to let go, relax, and focus on anything else except the anxiety and fear. Because the anxiety is so very painful, it's much easier just to stay away from social situations and avoid other people altogether.

Now, We can see that this disorder can be truly devastating when interferes with a person’s daily life especially his or her personal growth.

Over the years, social anxiety disorder has been the least understood psychological problem in the world. It is no joke for these persons who suffer this disorder. It is therefore my burden, to share with you this knowledge so that we can altogether help social phobic live a better lives. And help them by understanding their situations and finding means to solve their problems.

At present, there had been no single, proven, universal method to improve success rate in treating social phobia. Let us address this ourselves simply by guiding our not so social friends to be outgoing socially.

Halgin and Whitbourne. Abnormal Psycholology (book)
Udhe, et al. Abnormal Psychology (book)
Richards, Thomas A. “What is social anxiety disorder”
Marks, Ishmael M. "What is cognitive therapy for social anxiety disorder?"

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