Social Anxiety Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Mind It
3 min read
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As you make your way into work on your first day, the feelings of nervousness and jitters is but natural. It can also have it's upsides. It can helps you stay alert and careful about your behavior.

As you begin to go to work regularly and are aware of your colleagues, the feeling diminishes overtime.

If these feelings of initial anxiety remain high for a long period of time, it can be because of social anxiety disorder.

People with social anxiety disorder have a fear of being judged in a negative manner and may not be able to their job well because of the fear of scrutiny.

Causes & Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

There are no specific reasons for social anxiety disorder but it may be caused due to a combination of reasons like genetics or surrounding environment.

A person who might have experienced neglect and abuse or whose close relative suffers from social anxiety disorder has higher risk of suffering from the disorder.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, social anxiety is the phenomenon in which a person behaves differently due to the fear of being judged and the anxiety affects their normal routine as well as their relationships with others.

Moreover, in people who have social anxiety disorder, the feeling of anxiety remains persistent for about 6 months in these people.

Social anxiety causes distress in people when in a specific social environment, in a situation that requires meeting new people or having a small talk.

They might also experience performance pressure before giving a presentation or feel anxious before raising a toast in a wedding.

The social anxiety disorder is generally ego dystonic, meaning they feel more anxious because of the fear of people knowing about their anxiousness.

They might be afraid that the physical symptoms like trembling and blushing shall be noticed and judged by others.

Severe anxiety due to the disorder may cause derealization in which a person spaces out and is unable to recognise their surroundings.

People might take help of drugs and alcohol to get rid of their anxiety that may lead to the problem of addiction.


Timely diagnosis and treatment can prevent the extreme social anxiety disorder

(photo: iStock)

Diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person can be diagnosed for social anxiety disorder if the doctor is sure that the avoidance and fear is not a result of other drugs or medical conditions. It is because there are a few key features of social anxiety disorder that overlap with the symptoms of other conditions.

For example, the symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder does not limit to anxiety due to social gatherings but due to fear of financial instability or physical harm.

Other example includes the avoiding public places due to the fear of being trapped and fear of panic attacks that are the symptoms of a condition known as agoraphobia.

Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder

The treatment of social anxiety disorder may include psychotherapy. medication or the combination of the two.

In case of psychotherapy, a person may take the help of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches them to think and behave different while they in a public place or in a social gathering.

Common drugs to deal with extreme social anxiety disorders include beta-blockers, Selective Serotonin Reuptalce Inhibitors (SSRIs), Selective Serotonin-norepinephrine Inhibitors (SSNIs) and Benzodiazepines.

While SSRIs helps regulate serotonins in the brain, NSRIs regulates serotonins, norepinephrine and dopamines that are helpful in managing anxiety, and are prescribed by psychiatrists. Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that have a relaxing effect on the brain and beta blockers ease the physical symptoms and performance anxiety.

Though anxiety medications can help ease anxiety in short run, the cognitive behavioral method can help solving the problem in the long term and moreover has no side effects.

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Topics:  Anxiety   Anxiety Disorder   Social Anxiety 

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