Social Anxiety Disorder

When people are overwhelmed with anxiety and become obsessively self-conscious when they find themselves in a normal social situation, they may be suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder, or what some call a Social Phobia. These people are afraid and preoccupied about being judged by others and believe that every little thing they wear, do or say is being observed and judged by others.

They fear doing something embarrassing or that they won’t fit in. When they know they have an event they are expected to attend they will worry day and night for weeks ahead of time. This excessive worry can develop into a phobia prevents them from enjoying life and can interfere with everything from work to school and of course it affects their ability to make and enjoy friends.

Although most people who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder understand that they are unreasonably fearful of being around people in a social setting, they can’t help themselves. Even when they convince themselves that they’re being irrational and force themselves to join in, the anxiety and discomfort does not go away. They don’t enjoy themselves and when it’s over they ruminate for hours on how others may have been judging them negatively.

There are different levels of social phobia.  It may be limited to just one type of social situation, like talking to others or events where everyone is dining and drinking or it may generalize to all social situations where the person is anxious and uncomfortable around anyone except members of their own family.

Social Anxiety Disorder is accompanied by physical symptoms:

  • Chronic blushing
  • Perspiring profusely
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty speaking

When people with Social Phobia begin displaying these symptoms their discomfort increases as they perceive that everyone is staring at them and seeing these symptoms and judging them negatively.

There are approximately 15 million Americans of adult age who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder. It affects both females and men equally and usually begins to show up in childhood or early teens. People with Social Phobia frequently suffer from depression and substance abuse as they try to quell their anxiety with alcohol or drugs.

Social Anxiety Disorder is able to be treated successfully.

Specific Phobias

Someone who suffers from a specific phobia is terribly afraid of something specific that in actuality doesn’t threaten them at all or pose any real danger.

Common specific phobias include:

  • A fear of closed-in places like elevators or tunnels
  • Fear of heights
  • Fear of using an escalator
  • Driving on highways
  • Flying in a plane
  • Dogs
  • Seeing blood

Adult sufferers of these specific phobias are not only extremely fearful when they have to face the situation they’re afraid of, they realize at the same time that their fears are unfounded. It doesn’t help though as the panic attack still comes on.

There are approximately 19.2 million adult Americans that suffer from specific phobias and it disproportionally affects women more than men, 2 to 1. The irrational fear begins in childhood and continues on into adulthood. Although the causes of these phobias aren’t exactly known it does appear that this tendency is learned.

If the person with a specific phobia can possibly avoid the situation they fear, they will. And if they can they will probably not seek therapy. But if they can’t progress in their life, relationships, or in their career, they may look for treatment. With the right kind of psychotherapy they should be able to overcome their phobia.

Because our treatment center relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from social anxiety and other phobias.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these anxiety disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  If you or a loved one is showing signs of social anxiety or other anxiety disorders, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan that can result in recovery.  Treatment for social phobias and anxiety disorders can be highly successful.  Call us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.