Social phobia is a strong and persistent fear of social or performance situations. The person fears they will be scrutinised and negatively judged by others. Social phobia can interfere significantly with a person’s life because people cope by avoiding the social situation or enduring it with intense distress. They may limit what they do in front of others -especially eating, speaking, drinking, or writing – or withdraw from contact with others.
According to the national institutes of mental health people with anxiety disorder tend to:
- feel nauseous or sick to their stomach
- Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
- Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
- Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward
- Be very afraid that other people will judge them
- Stay away from places where there are other people
What cause social anxiety can be a complicated, what may seem to be the immediate cause of a social anxiety problem will actually be just one of many contributory factors. It could be a genetic cause, studies have shown that people whose parents and siblings have social phobia are more likely to suffer from it themselves. Stressful events can be a contributing factor, some particular experiences can trigger the development of social anxiety. One way this can happen is by encountering a particularly humiliating or stressful event that can cause a person to feel socially anxious. There also parts of the brain structure called the amygdala may be the cause of a higher level of fear response in certain people, and therefore causing worries and anxiety in the event of social exposure.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs are currently among the most popular medications used in treating Social Phobia. Research indicated that they are very effective with types of disorder. Medication can include:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs act on two brain chemicals, rather than just serotonin like the SSRIs. They are often used for Social Phobia in a similar way to the SSRI medications.
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Venlafaxine-XR (Effexor-XR)
Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are very effective at lowering anxiety levels quickly, which led to their being very commonly used for several decades.
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
The most effective psychological treatment for Social Phobia currently available is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. Numerous research trials have demonstrated a clear advantage for CBT, and the treatment is now widely accepted as a first choice treatment for Social Phobia. While the specific ways in which CBT for Social Phobia can be administered may vary somewhat between therapists, a number of features distinguish this approach from other commonly used psychotherapies:
Tips to deal with anxiety
Connect with others. Loneliness and isolation set the stage for anxiety. Decrease your vulnerability by reaching out to others. Make it a point to see friends, join a self-help or support group, or share your worries and concerns with a trusted loved one.
Practice relaxation techniques. When practiced regularly relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being.
Do physical exercise like walking, jogging, hiking or any form of regular exercise for 30 minutes can be huge help to take your mind off anxious feelings
Distract yourself, listen to some relaxing music or download audiobooks, podcasts, or movie. Many people find it’s more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
Stay away from caffeine and alcohol. If you struggle with anxiety, you may want to consider reducing your caffeine intake or cutting it out completely. Same with alcohol, which can make anxiety worse.