Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

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Social Anxiety Disorder or social phobia, is the third largest mental health care problem in the world. (Stein, 2010) National statistical surveys carried out in 2002 in the United Kingdom suggest that the prevalence rates for social phobias among young people in the UK were around 4%. (National Statistics, 2002)

‘Social phobia is characterised by intense and persistent fear of social situations in which scrutiny and embarrassment could occur’. (Orsillo & Hammond 2001, p.159) The individual with social phobia often feels they are being looked at, studied and critically analysed. Social anxiety is unlike other phobias in that it has the constant likelihood of being verified as being true. (Beck 2005, p.151)

Self-focussed attention has been described as ‘The engine that drives social phobia’ (2004, Bennett-Levy J, 2004, p.142) and self-focus is central to the Clark social phobia model. The type of self-focussed attention is not self-loving and accepting, it is instead negative and critical. I have not met a social phobic who thought others evaluated them positively all the time. It has a negative twist.

The socially phobic’s intuition and gut feelings often draws erroneous and sometimes illogical conclusions. These feelings are based on past experiences, which are often not valid and realistic to their present situation. Their childhood experiences have often included very authoritarian parents or guardians and/or bullying in school or college. The social phobic takes their feelings and thoughts very seriously and does not choose to question them. It is the role of therapy to help the social phobic to question their thoughts and feelings but most of all to throw away all their safety behaviours and tak...

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...der and Social Phobia: A Population-Based Twin Study. American Journal of Psychiatry. 164(11):1722-1728, November 2007.

Spurr, JM, Stoppa, L. Clin Psych Rev 2002 Sept (22) 7. 947-75 Self focussed attention in social phobia and social anxiety.

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liebowitz social anxiety scale are clinician-rated measures of social phobia and assess fear and avoidance separatemly. Helpful in identifying a range of situations that are problematic for the client.

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