Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is the fear of social situations such as meeting new people, going on a date, making phone calls, being the center of attention, being called on in a class, going on interviews, public speaking or any situation where you think you are being judged or watched. These fears can be so intense that the sufferer avoids them at all costs.
Although many people may be uncomfortable in performance situations, people with social anxiety disorder have anxiety connected to situations such as eating in front of someone or going to parties. The underlying issue is the fear of being scrutinized, judged or being embarrassed. It is normal to get nervous before speaking in front of an audience, but if you obsess over it for weeks, call in sick or get so shaken that you can't speak, than you may suffer from social anxiety disorder. If social outings create anxiety that interferes with your normal routine and causes tremendous distress, this may also be social anxiety disorder.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be the most effective treatment for social anxiety disorder, or social phobia. If what you think affects how you feel, and your feelings affect your behavior, then changing the way you think about social situations that give you anxiety, can help you to feel and function better. Through relaxation techniques, you can better control the physical symptoms of anxiety. Through desensitization, you will identify the stimulus that creates the anxiety, and then slowly expose yourself to that stimulus, thus building a tolerance to this stimulus. The more you practice and prepare for situations you're afraid of, the less anxious you will feel about them.
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