Social Anxiety Disorder (or Social Phobia) is an anxiety disorder that describes an intense and often irrational fear of being humiliated or judged in social situations. Not to be confused with shyness, as sufferers are extremely self concious and often paranoid of others perceptions of them, their anxieties often leading them to avoid certain situations or show symptoms such as shaking, sweating, panic attacks, pounding heart, stuttering, hot/cold flashes, blushing and avoiding eye contact. Over-analysing during and after social situations, replaying events in search of negative actions or responses by others are also key behaviours.
Social Anxiety is often referred to as 'the disorder of lost opportunities', meaning people often miss out on job promotions, relationships etc because of their avoidance and general fear of rejection. A person with SA may find it difficult to make and maintain friendships and fear situations where they're not in control, often turning to alcohol or drugs as a coping method or to relieve symptoms. Although 8% of the population suffer with this condition, it is suggested that the percentage may be higher, as typically sufferers avoid seeking help and getting diagnosed, often manifesting into secondary disorders such as Avoidant Personality or Depression.
Example of a person with typically moderate Social Anxiety Disorder:
The phone rings, Amy doesn't recognise the number and lets it go to answer machine. Her stomach drops and chest tightens as she hears an unknown woman's voice, it's from the job agency inviting her for an interview in a few days time. She has to call them back asap. For hours she puts off the call, as she sits by the phone trying to calm down and clear her head. Every time she picks up the receiver her mouth dries up and her heart races, hanging up in a panic before they answer. Eventually she calls them, rehearsing what to say as she waits for them to pick up, praying for it to go to voicemail. To her relief it does. After she leaves her message, she hangs up and a wave of relief and adrenaline floods over her. But then she remembers how she stuttered a little and had to restart her sentence, and how her voice sounded higher than usual due to her nerves. She expects the person who'll listen to her message to judge her negatively, and spends the rest of the day thinking about it.
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