What causes SAD?
Social Anxiety Disorder or social phobia can be passed down from parent to child, but the reason why some people have it and others don’t is unknown. We may come to learn more about social phobia as scientists make discoveries about fear and anxiety in the brain and how stress and the environment factor in.
It is estimated that about 15 million American adults are affected by social phobia. It is found equally in men and women and most often begins in childhood or early on in adolescence.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of social phobia might include:
- Being uncomfortable and anxious about being around other people
- Difficulty talking to others
- Feeling self-conscious or embarrassed in front of other people
- Being fearful of being judged by other people
- Difficulty making and keeping friends
- Avoiding places where there are a lot of people
- Feeling nauseous or sick around other people or blushing, sweating or trembling
How is social phobia diagnosed?
If symptoms have been persisting for more than 6 months, a doctor can usually make a positive diagnosis. Some people feel social phobia just in relation to a particular type of situation such as presenting themselves in front of a group of people or simply eating and drinking in front of others. Other people have a more generalized phobia and may feel anxious around anyone outside of their family.
If you think you might be suffering from SAD, talk with your doctor and they can do an exam to make sure your symptoms are indeed connected to a social phobia.
What treatment options are there?
If social phobia is not treated, it can go on for years or an entire lifetime. Treatments may include psychotherapy and or medication.
Cognitive behavior therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is often used to help treat social anxiety disorder. It involves teaching a person new ways of thinking and behaving that will help them handle their anxiety and improve their social skills.
Medication prescribed for social phobia may include anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. Anti-anxiety medications can be quite powerful and shouldn’t be taken for long periods of time. Antidepressants are often used to treat depression but can work well for social anxiety as well.
Antidepressants can pose serious risks in certain people, especially children, teens and young adults. They can cause suicidal thoughts and lead to suicide attempts. This is why it is important to closely monitor people taking antidepressants and look for red flags as they begin their treatment.
Work closely with your doctor to determine what sort of treatment is best for you, whether it’s medication, therapy, or a combination of both.