Defining Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety Defined

Diagnosing social anxiety can be complex since the symptoms can be so diverse. This anxiety might manifest as a specific fear in some individuals, involving drinking and eating. Some individuals experience anxiety when writing and speaking around others or before a group. Another symptom is fear of public restrooms and difficulty using them. More extreme cases cause the sufferers to experience anxiety and fear regardless of the social situation, preventing these individuals from ever being able to relax and enjoy events involving other people.

For those with social anxiety, the seemingly mundane and boring regular routines engaged in by the majority of people are a source of terror and constant preoccupation to the anxiety suffer. This terror can leave him or her too paralyzed with fear to act or perform necessary daily functions. The condition can result in the inability to get to work or attend school because of the irrational dread of being noticed or observed. With these symptoms the person is usually incapable of forming any normal, comfortable relationship with another person because they not only cannot comfortably meet people, they cannot interact and enjoy activities with friends. Only a very understanding and patient friend can handle these kinds of symptoms that severely limit what a person can tolerate doing without experiencing anxiety. Typical physical symptoms that an observer might notice are:

– Frequent blushing when interacting in groups of people
– Perspiring heavily due to anxiety, even though the temperature is cool and comfortable
– Actually developing shaky hands or body when having to deal with another person who has addressed or approached him or her.
– Nausea or even vomiting due to unrelieved anxiety
– Inability to speak without great effort

Social anxiety is not rare-around 5.3 million adult Americans have this disorder and it afflicts men and women equally. The condition usually starts to affect the person when still a child or as she enters her teenage years. Some experts feel there may be a genetic component to developing this social phobia, making close family members of a sufferer more susceptible to also having social anxiety problems.

The symptoms of social anxiety can be so stressful and debilitating those persons frequently start self-medicating to alleviate their symptoms. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs – both over-the-counter and uncontrolled substances–are often the symptom-relievers of choice, frequently leading to their abuse. Addictions compound the problems of social anxiety. Sufferers should not try to handle this condition on their own. Professional help of a doctor and psychotherapist can diagnose the condition and medical professionals can prescribe medications that will be truly effective without exacerbating the problem.


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