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Chris Cannizzaro
Due: March 7, 2013
Stress Management
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder also know as social phobia, is a chronic anxiety disorder that
causes considerable distress and an impaired ability to function in a normal daily life. A person
who suffers from this disorder shows an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations.
Social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder. “It has an early age of onset by age
11 years in about 50 % and by age 20 years in about 80% of individuals and it is a risk factor for
subsequent depressive illness and substance abuse” (Stein). Individuals with this disorder are
typically shy when meeting new people. When they interact with others, they might or might not
show evidence of discomfort. They don't like to make eye contact with others especially if they
are not familiar with them. Although, they crave the company of others they shun social
situations for fear of being found out as unlikeable, stupid, or boring (Stein).
The DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is as follows.
1. a notable and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations with exposure to
unfamiliar people or possible scrutiny by others; 2. the person fears that her or she will act in a
way that will be humiliating or embarrassing; 3. exposure to the feared social situation almost
invariably provokes anxiety, which can take the form of a panic attack; 4. the feared social or
performance situations are avoided or endured with intense anxiety or distress; 5. the condition
interferes with the person’s normal routine; and 6. the fear or avoidance is not due to the direct
physiological effects of a substance or general medical condition is not better accounted for by
another mental disorder (Stein).
Those with social anxiety disorder sometimes make false accusations about certain
situations, this is referred to as distorted thinking. They may have negative opinions of others for
no apparent reason. They tend to over think things and make situations worse for themselves.
“Without treatment this disorder can get pretty serious. It can negatively interfere with the
person’s normal daily routine, including school, work social activities, and relationships” (
WebMD). People with this disease may be afraid of specific situations, such as speaking in
public. Some situations that provoke the symptoms are as follows: eating or drinking in front of
others, writing or working in front of others, being the center of attention, interacting with
people, such as relationships or going to parties, asking questions in class or doing group
assignments. All of these situations cause a lot of stress on an individual that has this disease (
Some important signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder are intense fear of
interacting with people, fear of situations in which you might be judged, fear of others noticing
that you might look anxious, difficultly making eye contact, and difficulty talking. Some
physical symptoms include may include blushing, sweating, shanking, fast heartbeat, upset
stomach, muscle tension, confusion, diarrhea, and clammy hands (MAYO CLINIC). It is
extremely important for people that are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above to see a
doctor immediately or the disease could get worse and lead to more serious problems.
The cause of social anxiety disorder is still under investigation, however it likely arises
from a complex interaction of environment and genes. “Anxiety disorders tend to run in families.
However, it isn't entirely clear how much of this may be due to genetics and how much is due to
leaned behavior” (MAYO CLINIC). Natural chemicals in ones body may also play a role in
social anxiety disorder. For example, an imbalance of serotonin may play a factor. Serotonin is a
neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood and emotions. Those with social anxiety disorder
may be more sensitive to the effects of serotonin (MAYO CLINIC). Children who experience
bullying, rejection, or humiliation may also be more prone to social anxiety disorder.
Furthermore, any other negative effects that are going on in peoples lives such as, family
conflicts or sexual abuse can definitely cause someone to have social anxiety disorder in the
future. Social Anxiety Disorder is more prevalent in females than in males. “The National
Comorbidity Survey-Replication provides prevalence estimates of 12-month and lifetime DSMIV social anxiety disorder as 7.1% and 12.1% respectively” (Stein).
After diagnosis from a psychiatrist, the patient will soon begin treatment the two most
common treatments are medication and psychotherapy. These two approaches may be used in
combination (Wed MD). Psychotherapy, also known as psychological counseling, improves
symptoms in most people with social anxiety disorder. “Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most
common type of counseling for anxiety. This type of therapy is based on the idea that your own
thoughts — not other people or situations — determine how you behave or react. Even if an
unwanted situation won't change, you can change the way you think and behave” (Web MD).
Medication may also be used to treat the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. The first type of
medication that may be chosen are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Common
SSRIs may include Paroxetine (Paxil), Sertraine (Zoloft), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), and Fluoxtine
(Prozac, Sarafem) (Web MD). To reduce the side effects of medications, a doctor will start the
patient at a low dose and gradually increase the patient to a full dosage.With proper medication
and psychotherapy, the symptoms of social anxiety disorder may fade over time and the patient
is able to live a healthy and normal lifestyle.
There is no way to avoid social anxiety disorder but there are ways to minimize the
symptoms such as, seeing a doctor for it, avoiding tobacco,alcohol,caffeine, and drugs,and
finally attending counseling and support groups if the symptoms get worse. Stress has a major
impact on people with social anxiety disorder. It could make the symptoms much worse causing
them to have a much faster heart rate, which can potentially be very dangerous.
Stein , Dan. "Social Anxiety Disorder ." 317.9618 (2008): 1063-1064.
"Mayo Clinic." Social Anxiety Disorder ( Social Phobia). (2011): n.
page. Print.
"WebMD." Anxiety and Panic Disorders Health Center . (2005): n.
page. Print.
"Health for Boomers and Beyond ." Social Anxiety Disorder Prevention
. n. page. Print.