Individuals with social anxiety disorder suffer with significant fear and anxiety of social situations where they may be scrutinized and negatively evaluated by others. In order to fit this category of problem a person must:
- exhibit significant fear or anxiety about social situations where the person is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. For example, exposure to possible negative evaluation when in conversation, meeting unfamiliar people, being observed eating or drinking, or performing in front of others.
- be afraid that they will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated. The person fears that they will be humiliated, embarrassed in a way that will lead to rejection.
- social situations almost always provoke fear and anxiety.
- social situations are avoided or endured with intense fear or anxiety.
- the fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social situation.
- the person has consistently experienced this fear and anxiety for 6 months or more.
- the fear and anxiety causes significant distress that interferes with the person’s quality of life including job, work and other activities of daily life.
- the fear is not the result of a substance, effects of medication, panic disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, autism spectrum disorder on any medical condition.
Often the person fears that they will be negatively evaluated seen as anxious and therefore weak, crazy, stupid, boring, intimidating, dirty, unlikable. The person also fears that they will be negatively evaluated if the blush, tremble or shake, sweat, or stumble over their words. Once in the cycle it tends to escalate leaving the person inhibited and avoidant.
Median age of onset is 13 and 75% of young people have an age of onset between the ages of 8 and 15 years. Social phobia can and does follow people throughout their life span and can present problems at any age. As you might imagine you can suffer more as you age without an appropriate intervention.
Social anxiety disorder is associated with elevated rates of school dropout and with decreased well being, employment, workplace productivity, socioeconomic status and quality of life.
It has been my experience over the years that social phobia is a significant factor in impeding potential and growth for any individual suffering with it. These are individuals who are often very intelligent talented and creative.
Please contact me if you suspect you or someone you care about has social anxiety disorder in the areas surrounding Philadelphia, Montgomery County, and the Main Line.
My Very Best to You,