Disorder or Social Phobia
any social situation, I felt fear. I would be anxious before I even left
the house, and it would escalate as I got closer to a college class, a
party, or whatever. I would feel sick in my stomach-it almost felt like I
had the flu. My heart would pound, my palms would get sweaty, and I would
get this feeling of being removed from myself and from everybody else."
"When I would walk into a room full of people, I'd turn red and it would
feel like everybody's eyes were on me. I was embarrassed to stand off in a
corner by myself, but I couldn't think of anything to say to anybody. It
was humiliating. I felt so clumsy, I couldn't wait to get out."
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is diagnosed when
people become overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in
everyday social situations. People with social anxiety disorder have an intense,
persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and of
doing things that will embarrass them. They can worry for days or weeks
before or after a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it
interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make
it extremely hard to make and keep friends.
While many people with social anxiety disorder do realize that their fears
about being with people are excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to
overcome them. Even if they are able to confront their fears and be around
others, they are usually very anxious beforehand, are intensely
uncomfortable throughout the encounter, and worry about how they were
judged or perceived for hours or days afterward.
Social anxiety disorder can be limited to only one situation (such as talking
to people, eating or drinking, or writing on a blackboard in front of
others, or talking in groups of people) or may be so broad (such as in generalized social phobia) that the
person experiences anxiety around almost anyone other than their family.
Physical symptoms that often accompany social anxiety disorder include
blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking.
When these symptoms occur, people with social anxiety disorder feel as though all eyes are
focused on them.
Social anxiety disorder affects about 15 million American adults.1 Women
and men are equally likely to develop the disorder,2 which usually begins
in childhood or early adolescence.3 There is some evidence that genetic
factors are involved.4 Social anxiety disorder is often accompanied by other
anxiety disorders or depression,3,5 and substance abuse may develop if
people try to self-medicate their anxiety.5,6
Social anxiety disorder and its symptoms can be successfully treated with certain kinds of
psychotherapy or medications. Alpha-Stim® may also be
able to stop or decrease your symptoms of anxiety and depression
associated with this disorder.
For more information please call us at 1-888-END-ANXIETY (363-2694)
or email us at
1. Davidson JR. Trauma: the impact of post-traumatic stress
disorder. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 2000; 14(2 Suppl 1): S5-S12.
2. Bourdon KH, Boyd JH, Rae DS, et al. Gender differences in phobias:
results of the ECA community survey. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 1988;
3. Robins LN, Regier DA, eds. Psychiatric disorders in America: the
Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study. New York: The Free Press, 1991.
4. Kendler KS, Walters EE, Truett KR, et al. A twin-family study of
self-report symptoms of panic-phobia and somatization. Behavior Genetics,
1995; 25(6): 499-515.
5. Regier DA, Rae DS, Narrow WE, et al. Prevalence of anxiety
disorders and their comorbidity with mood and addictive disorders. British
Journal of Psychiatry Supplement, 1998; (34): 24-8.
6. Kushner MG, Sher KJ, Beitman BD. The relation between alcohol
problems and the anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1990;