According to the Social Anxiety Institute, social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is the third most prevalent mental problem in the world. Social phobia is a disorder in which people have a severe fear of being judged, watched, humiliated, or feeling inadequate in a social situation. People who suffer from social phobia dread situations which make them the center of attention, public speaking engagements, large crowds, having to speak and share ideas with a group, and being introduced to new people. Treatments and resources for people suffering from social anxiety disorder can help alleviate the symptoms of social phobia and help people deal with social situations.
Signs and Symptoms of Social Phobia
Occasional shyness and nervousness is not indicative of social phobia. Everyone gets feelings of anxiety, but it’s people who get physically sick or worry for weeks about social events that suffer from social phobia. Social phobia has both mental and physical symptoms. Mental symptoms can include incessant worry for weeks or months, intense feelings of fear before social engagements, excessive fear or worry about being judged or inferior to other people, and avoidance of social activities to the point where it interferes with day to day situations. Physical symptoms include rapid heart beat, sweating, shaking hands or voice, twitching, fidgeting, dizziness, and stomach problems.
Treatment for Social Phobia
While social phobia usually lasts for life, there are psychological treatments and medications that can help manage social phobia. Therapy is often used to treat social phobia, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy. With cognitive behavioral therapy a mental professional helps a person learn to cope with their own thoughts and behaviors concerning social situations. A therapist may reenact social situations so a person can analyze and change how they react to stressful social engagements. Psychiatrists may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. Common medications used to treat social phobia are Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Luvox.
Resources and Services for Social Phobia
People suffering with social phobia need a strong support system to overcome the disorder. Supportive family and friends are key in dealing and managing social phobia, but sufferers will also need a good therapist and a support group of people dealing with the same condition. A therapist can direct sufferers to a local support group, and sufferers can take advantage of online support groups that utilize email lists or forums for 24/7 support.
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