Dr. Richard Heimberg: Hi! I am Dr. Richard Heimberg, Director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University and a member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which is partnering with the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety.
Today I am talking about social anxiety disorder in children and teens. This disorder is characterized by an intense fear of being negatively judged by others. Symptoms may be so extreme that they disrupt daily life.
Children adolescents and teens with this disorder may have few or no friends. They may not participate in class or play at recess. Many shy children overcome their shyness, but if your child has trouble making friends or avoid participating in school and social activities and shows no signs of improvement, consult a health professional. Family history of anxiety or depression increases the risk that this may not be shyness your child will grow out of. Social anxiety disorder does not just go away and the consequences often include loneliness, low self-esteem; reduced success in school, depression and substance misuse.
For children and teens, typical anxiety provoking situations are answering questions in class, asking the teacher a question, having a school picture taken, PE class, writing on a whiteboard and inviting others to get-together.
The typical age of onset is 13 years old, but younger children can also suffer. Rather than saying they are anxious or afraid, children at this age are more likely to say their experiencing physical symptoms.
Some common physical symptoms of socially anxious children include stomachaches, queasiness or butterflies, nausea, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, dry mouth, blushing and headaches. If your child describes these symptoms in relation to social situations, the problem may be social anxiety disorder.
Children need to be properly diagnosed and treated. Early intervention and treatment can be very successful and it may prevent the development of other disorders. So be sure to ask for help.
The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety provides support to help you manage, treat and conquer this often debilitating disorder. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America can help you find resources and a therapist who specializes in treating social anxiety disorder.