Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Disorder
Social phobia or social anxiety disorder is the constant fear of
being criticized or evaluated by other people. People who suffer
from social phobia are excessively self-conscious to the point
where they feel that everyone around them is looking at them and
judging them harshly. They become nervous, anxious and afraid of
the world around them. For those with social phobia, everyday
social situations like parties can become highly intimidating
The key to the problem is that people with social anxiety want
to be liked. They want very much to be seen as witty, dynamic
and sociable. They want to fit in. However their anxiety about
not performing well in public is so strong that it tends to
cripple their best efforts. They freeze when they meet new
people, particularly if they want these people to like them, for
instance because they feel attracted to them or because they
look up to them. They are afraid that their anxiety will be
noticeable and this fear causes the anxiety to grow and turn
into a vicious cycle.
Social anxiety usually develops early and without adequate
treatment can be a chronic, unrelenting torturous condition.
However, with suitable care, it is possible to overcome social
Social anxiety disorder is an illness that customarily runs a
chronic course and is often associated with other psychiatric
disorders. The duration of social anxiety disorder is frequently
lifelong. Yet in these times, there is no need for it to be.
Significant improvements in the quality of life are within the
reach of nearly all sufferers.
>From a neurobiological point of view, low levels of
neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotomin are commonly
associated with social anxiety. Research shows that people with
social phobia are five times more likely to develop Parkinson's
disease in later life - Parkinson's is caused by abnormally low
levels of dopamine. From a pharmaceutical standpoint, drugs
which boost levels of these neurotransmitters can provide very
efficient treatment for social phobia.
As for psychological treatment, among the most effective are CBT
(Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and CGBT (Cognitive Group
Behavioural Therapy). In supportive environments, social phobics
can learn to address their fears and can steadily overcome them.
With the help of a therapist, they can develop strategies for
coping and find a more constructive way of viewing their fears.
The advantage of group therapy is that they can meet and
interact with fellow sufferers, which will help them to realise
that they are not facing their problems alone.