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Anxiety - Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 08, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the most common symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder and when to seek professional help - click here.

Social Anxiety is the fourth most common mental health diagnosis in the United States.

It is a very common, often misunderstood psychological issue that affects up to 12% of the U.S. population or 15 million Americans. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

Gender Bias:

Women develop Social Anxiety at twice the rate of men. However, women are less likely than men to report Social Anxiety as an ongoing issue.

Defined By Shyness:

Social Anxiety tends to develop in childhood or adolescence and the most common age of appearance is between 11 and 16 years old. If it goes unaddressed, it can become a defining part of many important stages of life including high school, college, and early work experience. It can rob your child of wonderful social opportunities and limit their ability to experience the world.

Contradictory Experiences:

Surprisingly, those who are socially anxious often have excellent social skills when they are one-on-one. In a group, they may present as somewhat shy or reserved, but they are actually extremely socially capable and have a lot of skills interpersonally. They continue to search for evidence every moment of every day that they are somehow compromised socially.

Family Tree:

You are ten times more likely to develop Social Anxiety if you have a relative who also has a form of Social Anxiety. The early life family system reinforces social withdrawal as normal and not a serious mental health issue. Over the years, they become convinced that they lack the social skills to reach out and develop connections to those around them.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of Social Anxiety:

  • A persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations
  • Fear of exposure to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny
  • Regularly worrying that they will humiliate or embarrass themselves
  • Fear of exposure to social situations
  • Panic attacks that are confined only to social situations
  • Avoidance or endurance of social or performance situations
  • Intense anxiety or distress during social or performance situations
  • Anxious anticipation of social or performance situations
  • Significantly changing their routines to avoid social activities or relationships

Social Anxiety Disorder is a very serious condition. If you think someone you know may have Social Anxiety, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.


“Treatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety Disorders, Second Edition” by Robert Leahy, Stephen Holland, and Lata McGinn

Belzer et al. 2005

Chapman, Mannuzza and Fryer, 1995

Fiuieira and Jacques, 2002

Grant et al. 2005

Merikangas, Lieb, Wittchen and Avenevoli, 2003

Rapee, 1995

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