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Anxiety - What Is Social Anxiety? - By Chris Gearing

Friday, July 05, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what social anxiety is, some of the signs of social anxiety, and when to seek professional help - click here.

Have you ever been struck with fear when you walked into a crowded room?

Do you begin to feel overwhelmed with panic and anxiety right before a party or public presentation? You may be suffering from social anxiety if you regularly experience significant dread before or during social situations due to a fear of being humiliated or embarrassed. Social anxiety is a very common, often misunderstood psychological issue that affects up to 12% of the U.S. population or 15 million Americans.

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

Sufferers tend to narrow their lives in an effort to preserve any sense of safety and predictability. Over time, the social anxiety usually becomes more entrenched and more profound. They shape their lives to avoid any anxiety-producing social situation and to avoid any social settings that may make them feel vulnerable and nervous.

In fact, they often avoid professional treatment due to the overwhelming anxiety.

They usually only begin treatment once there has been an event in their lives that forces them to face the problem. Typical examples include professional responsibilities that require public performance or even family responsibilities like being a leader in their child’s PTA or other activities. For them, romantic relationships are a true struggle and they often avoid dating of any kind.

Instead of addressing the problem head on, most sufferers build a new life that helps them avoid social situations that trigger their anxiety.

They may begin to accept the loss of friends and family since their anxiety is too overwhelming to be involved. In the end, they truly collapse their lives around them until they are safe, secure, but ultimately alone.

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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