In the 1960s, British psychiatrist Isaac Marks proposed that social phobia was distinct from other phobias. The American Psychiatric Association recognized this, and it was first formally included in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Social dysfunction includes problems such as loneliness, isolation, inability to make friends, and poor relationships with family members.
How do you know if you have social anxiety? It's difficult to say without seeing your therapist or doctor, but here are some signs that you may have social anxiety:
You feel anxious before you go out into public places such as parties, dinners, meetings with colleagues or friends.
You feel uncomfortable when you have to talk to people you don't know well, such as coworkers or customers.
You feel embarrassed when you have to ask someone for help with something you've done or said that makes you feel ashamed. For example, you might feel embarrassed if someone sees you crying. You might also feel embarrassed if no one comes to your aid when you need help finding your car keys.
You feel worried even when there isn't a scary situation, for example when you have to give a speech in front of people.
You feel afraid when you have to deal with criticism from others.
Social anxiety disorder (sometimes known as social phobia) is a mental health issue. It is a persistent and severe anxiety of being observed and evaluated by others. This worry might interfere with job, school, and other daily activities. Social anxiety disorder can be diagnosed regardless of a person's age, but most people experience some form of social anxiety at some point in their lives.
People with social anxiety feel anxious in social situations because they fear they will do something wrong or say the wrong thing and that their image will be judged against their true self. They may avoid social interactions out of fear of further humiliation. Sometimes this fear leads to isolation from friends and family.
People with social anxiety often try to hide their fears by appearing confident when they are not. This may lead them to act like "tough guys" or "girly girls" to fit in with their peers. Some people may even use drugs or alcohol to cope with these feelings.
The good news is that social anxiety disorder is highly treatable. With proper therapy or medication, most people are able to learn how to deal with their fears effectively. In addition, there are organizations such as The Anxiety and Depression Association of America which offer support and information on how to deal with anxiety disorders in general.
Michael Liebowitz (a doctor) and Richard Heimberg began studying social anxiety in 1985. (a clinical psychologist). Due to a paucity of research on the subject, the illness was formerly classified as a "neglected anxiety disorder."
It is now recognized as one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, with an estimated 12% of the population suffering from it at some point in their lives. Social anxiety affects men and women equally and can occur at any age, although it tends to appear more often during adolescence and early adulthood.
People with social anxiety avoid situations where they might be humiliated or rejected. The anxiety can be so severe that it interferes with daily life. Symptoms include feeling anxious in social situations, worrying about how you are perceived by others, feeling ashamed because of your appearance or behavior, and avoiding social interactions altogether.
The fear of humiliation may lead people with social anxiety to underperform or overperform in certain settings. For example, someone with social anxiety might try too hard when making a speech in class but not join in the conversation with his or her friends afterward. Or they might go out of their way to make friends but then quickly drop them when they find out that the people they're meeting expect something more than just a casual acquaintance.
People with social anxiety tend to focus on negative comments rather than positive ones.