Social Anxiety


Social anxiety disorder also known as social phobia is the third largest mental health problem in the world today. Social anxiety is the fear that people who suffer from it have of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say that social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people. It is a generalized disorder and causes anxiety and fearin most areas of a person’s life, be it their social, work or family life. It is chronic because it does not go away on its own. Only direct cognitive behavioral therapy can change the brain and help people overcome social anxiety.


What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety is a disorder also known as social phobia and it is a huge problem that affects the modern world. It is a problem of social anxiety and fear before social situations that involve having an interaction with other people causing insecurity, fear and anxiety.



Social anxiety is the same as social phobia and the word phobia comes from Phobos , who was the son of Aphrodite , goddess of love and of Ares , god of war, mentioned by Hesiod in the Theogony and had as meaning fear . It is also believed that the origin of the term shows that the central part of the phobia is fear, differing from terror that is linked to both the god Deimos and the god Pan from whom the word panic arises.


Causes of social anxiety

The exact cause of social phobia is still unknown to doctors. However, current research supports the idea that it is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors . Negative experiences can also contribute to this disorder, and these can include the following:

  • sexual abuse
  • bullying
  • family problems
  • Physical abnormalities such as a serotonin imbalance can contribute to this condition.

Symptoms of social anxiety

The social interaction can cause the following physical symptoms:

  • Sickness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Continuous tremors
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Psychological symptoms can include:
  • Worrying intensely about social situations
  • Constant worry days or weeks before an event
  • Avoid social situations
  • Worrying about being ashamed of a social situation
  • Worrying that other people will notice you are stressed or nervous
  • Needing alcohol to face a social situation
  • Constant absence from school or work due to anxiety


Several types of treatment are available to treat social anxiety disorder. Treatment results vary from person to person. Some people only need one type of treatment. However, others may require more than one. The Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients learn how to control anxiety through relaxation and breathing , and how to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The Exposure therapy is another type of therapy that helps the patient to gradually confront social situations, rather than avoid them . The Group therapy helps you learn skillssocial skills and techniques for interacting with people in different social settings . Participating in group therapy with others who have the same fears can make the patient feel less alone and give him the opportunity to practice his new skills through role play.

How to overcome social anxiety

It is recommended to have at least eight hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep can increase anxiety and make social phobia symptoms worse. Foods like coffee , chocolate, and soda are stimulants and can increase anxiety, so they are best avoided. Keep fears under control by recognizing the triggers that make you start to feel nervous or by practicing relaxation and breathing techniques , taking medications if they have been indicated according to medical instructions.

How it differs from shyness

In the case of shyness, we can say that it is a much milder problem than social anxiety. The intensity of fear presented by a person who is shy is much lower, avoiding exposure to social situations is also lower, for example, someone shy will go to a party, even if they talk little with the people who are in it, the social phobic you will probably not come if you have an excuse to avoid it, or you will make one up for not attending. Another difference between shyness and social anxiety disorder will be the interference in our daily life that in shyness will be much less. In shyness there is only a discomfort that it is temporary and in social anxiety disorder great suffering, with a great impact on our self-esteem and the concept we have about ourselves.


George, a 23-year-old Greek student, was referred by a psychiatrist for treatment to a University Guidance Center in Athens. He was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and type of specific phobia situation. He complained of panic attacks and severe anxiety symptoms. These symptoms were triggered in certain social situations and also when traveling by plane , driving a car, and visiting tall buildings or tall places. His symptoms led him to avoid finding himself in such situations, to the point of having affected his daily life. George was diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder and a specific, situational phobia (in this case, acrophobia) and received 20 individual sessions of cognitive behavior therapy. After therapy and the follow-up that occurred one month after treatment, George no longer met the criteria for social phobia and the symptoms leading to acrophobia were reduced.

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