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What Is Social Phobia / Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is when a person feels the continuous fear of being criticized or evaluated by other people. Individuals suffering from social phobia are very self-conscious to the point where they think that everyone around them is constantly looking at them and judging anything they do. They usually become nervous, anxious and scared of the world around them. This is why for social phobia sufferers; social situations like parties can become an intimidating nightmare. 

What happens is that people with social anxiety want to be liked.  They would very much like to be seen as sociable, witty and dynamic.  They would like to fit in.  However, their anxiety about not doing well in public is so strong that it has a tendency to cripple their best efforts.  They will freeze every time they meet new people, especially if they want these people to like them, for example because they are attracted to them or simply because they look up to them.  They become afraid about their anxiety being exposed and this fear will make the anxiety to grow and turn into a vicious cycle. 

Social anxiety typically develops early and without the right treatment, it can become a chronic, unrelenting torturous condition.  With appropriate care, however, it can be possible to overcome social phobia altogether. 

Social anxiety disorder is an illness that habitually runs a chronic course and is often related with other psychiatric disorders.  The length of social anxiety disorder is normally a lifelong.  Nowadays, though, it doesn’t have to be.  Major improvements in the quality of a sufferer’s life are within his/her reach. 

From a neurobiological standpoint, low levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotomin are usually associated with social anxiety.  Studies show that people who have social phobia are five times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease in later life.  Parkinson’s is caused by irregular low levels of dopamine.  From a pharmaceutical point of view, drugs that boost the levels of these neurotransmitters can provide very proficient when used for treating social phobia. 

On the psychological side, the most effective treatments for social phobia condition are usually CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and CGBT (Cognitive Group Behavioral Therapy). Under supportive environments, social phobics can be taught to address their fears and how to progressively overcome them. A therapist can help them develop strategies for coping and finding more beneficial methods to deal with their fears. The benefit of group therapy is that they will be able to meet and interact with other sufferers. This will help them relate to their problems so they don’t feel like they’re facing them alone.