Social Phobia

by M. Williams

Social Phobia is a fear of being around others, particularly in situations where an individual has to give an performance in front of other people. Exposure to social or performance situations provokes anxiety. This anxiety response leads further to panic attack . In social phobia, the core factor is the "Performance Anxiety" Individual with Performance anxiety usually have no difficulty with social interaction, but when they have to perform in front of people ,anxiety takes over.

Social phobia usually begins during adolescence. Before age 18years the symptoms of social phobia should last for at least 6 months. In feared or performance situation ,individuals with social phobia will be afraid that others will judge them as anxious, stupid or weak. Due to this fear they start trembling, voice becomes unclear, stutter and experience extreme anxiety. As a result they stop writing or drinking in public. They also experience symptoms of anxiety such as sweating, palpitations, tremors, muscle tension, blushing diarrhea etc. Blushing is a very typical characteristic of Social phobia. It also tends to be prevalent in people who are young ,uneducated, single and low socio-economic class.

Children experience social phobia with symptoms such as crying, freezing, tantrums ,mutism and clinging to a close person. Whereas young children experience symptoms like excessive timidity in social settings, lack of eye contact, and refusal to participate in a group play.

The course of social phobia is continuous. Duration lasts for lifelong. With treatment one can cope with the problem but cannot eradicate it completely.

Three pathways are possible to social phobia. Social phobia is caused due to a biological vulnerability to develop anxiety. One more reason of social phobia is exposure to fearful situations. Some social phobias are predisposed to focus their anxiety on events involving social evaluation. A combination of biological and psychological events lead to the development of social phobia.

Individuals with social phobia experience symptoms like low confidence,fearfulness,anxiety,lack of eye-contact, shyness and stress. While performing in front of others they find themselves under stress. Hence they have an unexpected panic attack in a social situation and then become anxious in the similar situations.

Effective treatments like Psychotherapy or behavior therapy help individuals to come out of social phobia. Other therapies like mirroring, personality development skills help individuals to cope with the problem. Rational emotive behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy also help individuals to think rationally and cognitively to cope with the situation. Family members are too, taught to reinforce the phobic patient to come out of the problem.

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