Some people are naturally shy and not comfortable being around new people. However, having a social phobia means that fear is so strong that it gets in the way of going to work or school or doing other everyday things. People with social phobia are afraid of doing common things in front of other people. For example, they may be afraid to sign a check in front of a cashier, use a public restroom, or eat in front of others. Most people who have social phobia know that they shouldn't be as afraid as they are, but they can't control their fear. Sometimes, they end up staying away from places or events where they think they might have to do something that will embarrass them. For some people, social phobia is a problem only in certain situations, while others have symptoms in almost any social situation.
Social phobia tends to run in families, but no one knows for sure why some people suffer from this while others don't. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety.
Signs & Symptoms
People with social phobia tend to:
- Be very anxious about being with other people and have a hard time talking to them, even though they wish they could
- Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed
- Be very afraid that other people will judge them
- Worry for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
- Stay away from places where there are other people
- Have a hard time making friends and keeping friends
- Blush, sweat, or tremble around other people
- Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach when with other people
Who is at Risk?
Social phobia affects about 15 million American adults. Women and men are equally likely to develop the disorder. This typically starts in childhood or early adolescence. There is some evidence that there could be a genetic factors that play a roll. Social phobia is often accompanied by other anxiety disorders or depression. Substance abuse may develop if people try to self-medicate their anxiety.
Psychotherapy can be extremely helpful for people with social phobias. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious and fearful. It can also help people learn and practice social skills. Medication is another way to treat severe social phobias. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are among some of the most commonly used medications to help people suffering from social phobias.
Call Horizon today and talk to someone about getting help (434) 477-5000.