What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,801
    Dr. Richard Heimberg educates us on social anxiety disorder, its symptoms and effects on the lives of those who suffer from the disorder.

    Dr. Richard Heimberg: Hi! I am Dr. Richard Heimberg, Director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University and a member in the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which is partnering with the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety.

    Today I am going to talk about social anxiety disorder which affects more than 15 million Americans of all ages, races and cultures and it may be present in children as well as adults. Social anxiety disorder is an intense fear of being negatively judged by others. This disorder is not simply shyness that has been inappropriately medicalized, it is a disabling disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self consciousness in everyday social and performance situations.

    Symptoms may be so extreme that they disrupt daily life. People with this disorder feel powerless, alone or even ashamed. Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, they are terrified and they feel humiliated and embarrass themselves.

    Having social anxiety disorder often interferes with a persons quality of life and ability to function well at work, school or in relationships. Once called social phobia, those suffering from this disorder may have few or no social or romantic relationships.

    People with social anxiety disorder are at increased risk for depression, alcohol abuse and suicide attempts. Even more so than people who have other types of problems with anxiety.

    People with social anxiety disorder may avoid social situations or isolate themselves. Here are typical situations that cause this type of anxiety: being observed by others, while eating or writing or being the center of attention, participating in small groups, giving a presentation, starting or maintaining a conversation or going to an office party.

    Many people feel temporary discomfort in these situations but those with social anxiety disorder, experience fear. They may worry about upcoming social obligations for days in advance. They may also experience physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, trembling or shaking, difficulty breathing or other panic like feelings when in a feared social situation. And in an attempt to manage their anxiety, they may avoid the situations that make them feel anxious.

    Andrew Kukes is one such person who battled social anxiety disorder and depression. The Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety as well as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, raise awareness about the diagnosis and treatment of social anxiety and related disorders.

    Fortunately; social anxiety disorders are treatable condition. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America can help you find a qualified health professional who can provide a clinical diagnosis and treatment.