Do you have trouble initiating conversations, being introduced to people, interacting with strangers, ordering food in a restaurant, making eye contact, entering a room full of people, writing in public, or using a public restroom? If so, you may be suffering from Social Phobia.
Social phobia is a chronic and irrational anxiety or fear of situations in which you feel that others are watching you and judging you. In social situations, you may have acute fear that you will humiliate yourself in front of others.
Symptoms of social phobia can have emotional, behavioral, and physical aspects. While some of these social anxiety disorder symptoms are minor and cause little disturbance, others may be severe and cause disruptions in a person’s life. If left untreated, social anxiety disorder may lead to loneliness, isolation, depression, and even suicide.
Due to persistent and chronic social anxiety, people with social anxiety disorder worry for days and weeks before being part of a social situation. The fear can be so overwhelming that it may affect their work, school, and other ordinary activities. It is very difficult for them to make and keep friends, and have a healthy, vibrant social life.
The top five symptoms of social phobia are:
- Irrational, intense fear of being in situations in which you don’t know people.
- Worrying about humiliating or embarrassing yourself in front of others.
- Intense fear of being judged by others.
- Fear that others scrutinize your every move, and that you look anxious and out of touch.
- Avoiding speaking to people and doing things thinking that you may embarrass yourself.
- Avoiding and withdrawing from situations that require you to play a major role.
- An all-pervasive anxiety that interfers with your work, school, and social life.
People with social phobia understand that their fears, anxieties, and worries about being with people are irrational. Yet, they are unable to shake them off.
This overbearing, overwhelming anxiety also manifests itself physically.
Physical signs of social phobia include; blushing, difficulty talking, profuse sweating, shaking and trembling, nausea, clammy hands, shaky voice, difficulty making eye contact, palpitations, muscle tension, and confusion.
People with social phobia symptoms are also affected by poor social skills, hypersensitivity to criticism (sometimes, a glance or a gesture from others can make them agonize themselves to death), negative chatter in their head, and not being assertive when the situation demands. If left untreated, depression and social phobia can affect a person for a long time.
Symptoms may flare up when the patient is stressed. They may wane when the patient cocoons themselves from social situations. Everything may look fine for a short period of time but the anxiety may persist. However, there is hope for a cure. At present, the most effective treatment is a combination of medications and cognitive behavioral therapy.
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