Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder

My friend has been going to college for the first time this year and has decided to drop out of school because of her intense fear to speak in front of the class.  She is petrified of public speaking and is willing to throw away her dream of getting a college degree.  My friend has an illness called a Social Anxiety Disorder, one of the most common disorders in the United States.  Often when a person struggles with excessive or unreasonable fear of social situations they don’t get help. They end up avoiding social situations and anything that makes them feel judged, criticized or watched.   Most of the time they only seek help if they are depressed.

People with social anxiety disorder suffer from distorted thinking, including false beliefs about social situations and the negative opinions of others. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can negatively interfere with the person’s normal daily routine, including school, work, social activities, and relationships.

People with social anxiety disorder may be afraid of a specific situation, such as speaking in public. However, most people with social anxiety disorder fear more than one social situation. Other situations that commonly provoke anxiety include:

  • Eating or drinking in front of others.
  • Writing or working in front of others.
  • Being the center of attention.
  • Interacting with people, including dating or going to parties.
  • Asking questions or giving reports in groups.
  • Using public toilets.
  • Talking on the telephone.

Social anxiety disorder may be linked to other mental illnesses, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression. In fact, many people with social anxiety disorder initially see the doctor with complaints related to these disorders, not because of social anxiety symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?

Many people with social anxiety disorder feel that there is “something wrong,” but don’t recognize their feeling as a sign of illness. Symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include:

  • Intense anxiety in social situations.
  • Avoidance of social situations.
  • Physical symptoms of anxiety, including confusion, pounding heart, sweating, shaking, blushing, muscle tension, upset stomach, and diarrhea.

Children with this disorder may express their anxiety by crying, clinging to a parent, or throwing a tantrum.

How Common Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder and the third most common mental disorder in the U.S., after depression and alcohol dependence. An estimated 19.2 million Americans have social anxiety disorder. The disorder most often surfaces in adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur at any time, including early childhood. It is more common in women than in men.

If you feel you are suffering from this disorder or think you know of someone that is call me at 407-808-1444.  I can help answer your questions and possibly schedule an appointment.

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