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Social anxiety is the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgement, evaluation, and inferiority. Put differently social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. If a person usually becomes anxious in social situations, but seems fine when they are by them selves, then social anxiety may be the problem.
Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is a much more common problem then psychologists originally thought. Millions of people al over the world suffer from social phobia every day, either from a specific or a more generalized social anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder is the third largest psychological disorder in the United States, behind depression and alcoholism. It is estimated that 7-8% of people suffer from some form of social phobia.
People who suffer from general social phobia will tend to worry about becoming the center of attention, worrying that everyone is looking at them, and noticing what they are doing. They may fear being introduced to other people and may even worry about eating or drinking in public. They might feel so embarrassed about undressing in public that you can't face going to the beach. Parties are difficult for people with social anxiety, they will hesitate slightly before going into a room full of people, because of the fear that everyone is looking at them. It can be tempting to use alcohol to help yourself cope, starting to drink before going to a pub or party, so that you can loosen up and relax enough to actually enjoy it.
This is a particular phobia that affects people who have to be the center of attention as part of their way of life. It may affect anybody who has to perform or speak in front of other people. Salesmen, actors, musicians, teachers, or union representatives may all suffer from it. In spite of this, it doesn't seem to cause problems for them in ordinary social situations. If you do suffer from social phobia, you may find that you can mix and socialize with other people without any problems. However...
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...ed, like starting conversations with people. Exposure therapy helps the patient relax in situations that would normally scare them, such as a crowded room. Cognitive therapy helps people change they way they think about them selves and other people, and helps them realize that not everyone is out to get them.
The third way to get help is for drug treatments, such as beta-blockers or anti-depressants.
Holt, C. S., Heimberg, R. G., Hope, D. A., and Liebowitz, M. L. (1992). Situational domains of social phobia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 6, 63-77.
Kessler, R. C., McGonagle, K. A., Zhao, S., Nelson, C. B., Hughes, M., Eshleman, S., Wittchen, H. U., and Kendler, K. S. (1994). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States. Results from the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 8 - 19.
Sanderson, W. C., DiNardo, P. A., Rapee, R. M., and Barlow, D. H. (1990). Syndrome comorbidity in patients diagnosed with a DSM-III-R anxiety disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99, 308-312.
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