Social phobia (social anxiety disorder) is fear of and anxiety about exposure to certain social or performance situations, often resulting in avoidance.
Humans are social animals, and their ability to relate comfortably in social situations affects many important aspects of their lives, including family, education, work, leisure, dating, and mating.
Although some anxiety in social situations is normal, people with social phobia have so much anxiety that they either avoid social situations or endure them with distress. About 13% of people have social phobia sometime in their life. The disorder affects about 9% of women and 7% of men during any 12-month period. Men are more likely than women to have the most severe form of social anxiety, avoidant personality disorder (see Personality Disorders: Avoidant Personality). Some people are shy by nature and, early in life, show timidness that later develops into social phobia. Others first experience anxiety in social situations around the time of puberty.
People with social phobia are concerned that their performance or actions will seem inappropriate. Often they worry that their anxiety will be obvious-that they will sweat, blush, vomit, or tremble or that their voice will quaver. They also worry that they will lose their train of thought or that they will not be able to find the words to express themselves.
Some social phobias are tied to specific performance situations, producing anxiety only when the people must perform a particular activity in public. The same activity performed alone produces no anxiety. Situations that commonly trigger anxiety among people with social phobia include the following:
* Public speaking
* Performing publicly, such as reading in church or playing a musical instrument
* Eating with others
* Signing a document before witnesses
* Using a public bathroom
A more general type of social phobia is characterized by anxiety in many social situations.
In both types of social phobia, people's anxiety comes from the belief that if their performance falls short of expectations, they will feel embarrassed and humiliated.
Recommended Resource for Social Anxiety: Social Anxiety Secrets Review