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Social Anxiety Disorder

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

      Individuals with Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) experience considerable anxiety and fear when in social or performance situations. This extreme anxiety often arises with exposure to unfamiliar people or situations and results in the fear of being scrutinized and judged by others. Individuals with SAD commonly avoid social interactions.

Social Anxiety is more than Shyness.

Most people experience some degree of shyness from time to time. But, people with SAD find that it affects their everyday life. So, they may avoid doing things, meeting people, or taking on new challenges or opportunities, because of their fear.

What are the symptoms?

      •   People with SAD fear acting in a way which they believe will be embarrassing or humiliating. In addition, people with SAD often fear behaviours that will potentially reveal physical signs of anxiety (e.g., sweating, blushing).
      •   When people with SAD face feared social situations, their physical symptoms may take the form of a panic attack (i.e., a discrete period of intense and sudden fear, apprehension or terror, with physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, blushing, trembling, sweating and faintness).
      •   People may fear specific aspects of social situations, such as writing or eating in public, using public toilets, or being observed by others at work.
      •   People with SAD usually recognize that their fear is unreasonable or excessive
      •   While many people show signs of shyness and inhibition in social situations, people with SAD can experience considerable disruption to their daily lives, reducing their quality of life overall. Some individuals with SAD are unable be out in public and experience significant distress when they enter social situations.
      •   People with SAD can experience intense distress as a result of their symptoms, and may have difficulties maintaining their normal routine. They may also experience disruptions in their occupational, academic, and/or social functioning.

Who gets Social Anxiety Disorder?

      •   SAD typically develops in adolescence. It is uncommon for SAD to develop after the age of 25
      •   SAD is experienced by approximately 3.0% of Canadian adults over a 12-month period

Treatment for Social Anxiety

Social phobia is treatable! The best treatments involve learning about your symptoms, learning how to control those symptoms, and slowly (and gradually) practicing going into situations you fear (to teach yourself, slowly and gradually, that you can manage those situations). You can talk to your General Practitioner about getting a referral to a Clinical Psychologist or another mental health professional to learn to manage your social phobia. You may also be able to try the Wellbeing Course here.