Social phobia is a disorder characterized by excessive fear of being the center of attention of other people.Social phobia is an anxiety disorder in which the individual feels an uncontrollable and excessive fear of social situations. A person with a social phobia is afraid to be humiliated, and to be ashamed of others. Such fear can become even worse if the patient is too introverted.The anxiety caused by social phobia can quickly turn into a panic attack.It is also called Social anxiety disorder.
What should not be confused with social phobia
We should not confuse social phobia with normal shyness , fear, and anxiety.Anxiety and shyness are not so intense for to cause a person to avoid social situations, leading significant losses in effective and / or professional relationships;Social Phobia and Panic are the same thing?Not at all . Although both disorders cause harm to the patient’s social life, there are two important differences:
In panic disorder patients can go wrong for no reason, anywhere (panic attack), while patients with social phobia feel bad only in the situations we have described previously. Patients with panic generally afraid of places where they believe it can not be helped them.. This is not the case with patients suffering from social phobia , for whom the main concern is to be the focus of people’s attention.
Symptoms of social phobia
Shyness or discomfort in certain social situations are not necessarily signs of social anxiety disorder, especially in children. The way a person behaves in a particular social situation depends and varies greatly, according to personality and life experiences. Some people are naturally reserved and others are more extroverted.
The main signs and symptoms of social phobia, with regard to feelings and behavior, include more pronounced sensations, such as:
- Fear of situations in which you may be judged, of interacting with unfamiliar people, of demonstrating your anxiety and apprehension at social events. Fear, also, of physical symptoms that can cause embarrassment, like easy blushing, sweating, tremors or trembling voice
- Concern about going through embarrassing or humiliating situations, or even offending someone
- Avoid doing some things or talking to people for fear of embarrassment, avoid situations where you may be the center of attention
- Anxiety about waiting for something, such as an event or activity.
Physical symptoms of social phobia
Some physical signs and symptoms can sometimes accompany social anxiety disorder, such as:
- Fast heartbeat
- Pain in the stomach or nausea
- Problems to catch your breath
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Muscle tension
In addition, people who suffer from social phobia tend to avoid common experiences that are part of everyday life, but can still be difficult to bear. See examples:
- Use public restrooms
- Interact with strangers
- Eating in front of others
- Make eye contact
- Start conversations
- Attend parties or social gatherings
- Go to work or school
- Enter a room where people are already seated
Treatment of social phobia
The first step in treatment is to convince the patient that social phobia is a disease and therefore should be treated. The treatment involves the use of medication and psychotherapy. Medication assists in reducing anxiety and therapy help the patient in coping with the feared situations.The diagnosis and treatment of social phobia should be made by psychiatrists and psychologists, either from cognitive techniques (which help phobic overcome their fears and have more positive thoughts about certain situations) or with the help of medications such as antidepressants and soothing.
There are several forms of psychotherapy, being the most studied and with better results for social phobia Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy. It is a type of treatment that usually has a great effect on the quality of life of people with social phobia, reducing their symptoms. In cognitive therapy, the patient learns to recognize the negative thoughts that he carries with him and then change them, developing skills that help him gain confidence (especially in social situations.
Several types of medications are used to treat social anxiety disorder. However, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the first and foremost type of medication used to treat the symptoms of social phobia. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may also be an option for the disorder.
To reduce the risk of side effects, your doctor may start by indicating a low dose of medication and gradually increase as the risk of side effects goes down until the patient is able to receive a full dose. Treatment can take from several weeks to several months – at least until the symptoms improve noticeably.
Social phobia Prevention
There are no known forms of prevention for social phobia. That is, there is no way to guess if the person will develop this problem over the years. However, it is quite possible to take some measures to reduce the impacts of the symptoms. So if you are feeling anxious or afraid about a social situation, try to adopt the following tips:
- Get help early. Anxiety, like many other mental health problems, can be more difficult to treat if the person takes a long time to seek medical and / or psychological help.
- Keep a diary. Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your psychologist or psychiatrist identify what may be causing your stress and what can be done to make you feel better.
- Set your priorities. You can reduce anxiety and fear by learning to better manage your time and identifying where you are using more of your energies.
- Avoid using certain substances. The consumption of alcoholic beverages and the abuse of drugs and even caffeine or nicotine from cigarettes can cause or aggravate anxiety symptoms. Also, if you become addicted to any of these substances, quitting smoking, for example, can make you anxious. If you can not stop on your own, consult a doctor to find the best way to permanently get rid of the addiction.