What Is Social Anxiety Disorder? 4 Things To Highlight

Among the many anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder is one of the most common. People who have social anxiety disorder often feel uncomfortable or nervous in social situations, such as giving a presentation or going on a date. It can be easy to mistake social anxiety disorder for general nervousness, which is what makes this disorder hard to spot. To better understand what is social anxiety disorder, here are 4 things you should know.

Understanding What a Social Situation Is

A social situation is any scenario that involves you and at least one other person. They generally fall into 2 categories: interpersonal interactions and performance situations.

Interpersonal situations involve interacting and bonding with others. Dating, meeting new people, going to social events, being assertive, and expressing opinions are all examples of interpersonal situations. 

Performance situations involve situations where an individual feels they are being observed. Eating in public, participating in meetings or group activities, performing in front of others, using a public washroom, and entering a room where everyone is already settled are examples of performance situations.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

When in a social situation, people with social anxiety disorder will exhibit the following:

  • Negative Thinking: They tend to think negatively of themselves and how others will react to them. This can lead to over-fixating on themselves, what they are doing and how they may appear to onlookers.
  • Physical Symptoms: Physical sensations similar to those of nervousness will manifest. These include a racing heart, dry mouth, trembling, sweating, shaking, an upset stomach, dizziness, and the urge to urinate.
  • Avoidant Behaviors: They may try to avoid or remove themselves from social situations. During a social situation, they may take precautions to protect themselves from negative feedback, such as not speaking to avoid saying something stupid and becoming embarrassed. 

Why Is Social Anxiety Disorder a Problem?

Experiencing the occasional nerves when doing something new is not a big deal. However, if it happens too often, it can be detrimental to daily functioning and many aspects of one’s life. Social anxiety becomes a problem when it affects:

  • Work and/or school
  • Daily activities
  • Hobbies or recreational activities
  • Relationships

Diagnosis and Treatment

Social anxiety disorder is first diagnosed with a detailed and comprehensive intake session neuropsychological assessment by a qualified health care provider. If need be, it can be followed by a neuropsychological assessment. They are Neuropsychological assessments may be conducted to evaluate an individual’s capacity to make decisions, as well as other skills linked to brain function. It is a good tool for diagnosing an array of psychiatric conditions including anxiety disorders in both children and adults. 

After the assessment, treatment plans often include:

  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the recommended type of psychotherapy for anxiety, where patients develop coping skills and slowly work towards facing situations they fear.
  • Medications: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the common antidepressant drug for alleviating symptoms of social anxiety. Other drugs may also be prescribed, such as benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications) and beta blockers that limit the effects of adrenaline.

If you are looking for a diagnosis or therapy plan for social anxiety disorder, Wonder Years has various treatments available and a professional team of health care providers to support individuals with psychiatric conditions such as anxiety.