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Social Anxiety Network

The Social Phobia/Social Anxiety Association (SP/SAA), a non-profit organization, was officially organized in 1997 to meet the growing needs of people throughout the world who have social phobia/social anxiety.

"Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and be vibrantly alive in repose."


Social Phobia

Social phobia affects 5.3 million adult Americans in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Social phobia

While the exact number of people in the world affected varies depending, social phobia (also known as social anxiety disorder) is a fairly common condition that happens alongside other conditions such as clinical depression, general anxiety, low self-esteem.

These conditions often result results from a lack of personal relationships and social isolation.

The following information is taken ad verbatim from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 4th Edition (DSM-IV):

Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)

Social Phobia is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by the following:

A. A market and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be humiliating or embarrassing. Note: In children, there must be evidence of the capacity for age-appropriate social relationships with familiar people and the anxiety must occur in peer settings, not just in interactions with adults.

B. Exposure to the feared social situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a situationally bound or situationlly Panic Attack. Note: In children, the anxiety may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or shrinking from social situations with unfamiliar people.

C. The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. Note: In children, this feature may be absent.

C. The phobic situation(s) is avoided or else is endured with intense anxiety or distress.

E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared situation(s) interferes significantly with the person's normal routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.

D. In individuals under age 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months.

G. The anxiety, Panic Attacks, or phobic avoidance associated with the specific object or situation are not better accounted for by another mental disorders, such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (e.g., fear of dirt in someone with an obsession about contamination), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (e.g., avoidance of stimuli associated with a severe stressor), Separation Anxiety Disorder (e.g., avoidance of school), Social Phobia (e.g., avoidance of social situations because of fear of embarrassment), Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia, or Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorder.

Specific type:

  • Generalized: If the fears include most social situations (e.g., initiating or maintaining conversations, participating in small groups, dating, speaking to authority figures, attending parties).

  • Note: Also consider the additional diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder

Special note

Stress management such as relaxation and medication can help control the symptoms of anxiety. Exercise and outdoor activities are known to have a calming effect as well. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stimulants such as caffeine, some over-the-counter cold medications and illicit drugs can aggravate the symptoms should be avoided.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown positive results in the treatment of anxiety and social phobia. In some cases, the combination of CBT with hypnosis has yielded even faster results in some individuals.

Family support is also very important. A therapist or counselor can guide family members in providing the necessary support to improve their loved one’s success in therapy without perpetuating symptoms or demanding rapid improvement.

      Related topics

      For more information, please visit the following links:

      • How to Get Help for Anxiety Disorders

      • General Anxiety Disorder

        • Citations

          American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994

          Schwartz C, Snidman N, Kagan J. "Adolescent social anxiety as an outcome of inhibited temperament in childhood". J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psy chiatry. 1999; 38 (8): 1008–1015

          Stein MB, Gorman JM. "Unmasking social anxiety disorder". Psychiatry Neuroscience. 2001; 26 (3): 185–9

          Updated: May 5, 2012

          Article created: September 10, 2010

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