Social Anxiety Disorder: One of the More Prevalent but Lesser Known Mental Disorders

With mental illness on the steady increase, disorders such as Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder are becoming widely known. However there is another little known mental illness described by recent studies as the third largest disorder in the United States of America. The name of this disorder is Social Anxiety Disorder.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia as it is sometimes called is the anxiety of being evaluated negatively by other people. The fear of judgement experienced by a person with the disorder leads to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment and humiliation. It also may result in Depression and substance abuse.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder.

Social Anxiety Disorder produces feelings of anxiety when an individual is confronted with a social situation. There are acute physiological symptoms that accompany the disorder. These include:

  • heightened fear
  • blushing
  • rapid heartbeat
  • perspiration
  • parched throat and mouth
  • shaking
  • difficulty swallowing
  • muscle spasms

Situations Causing Distress in People With Social Anxiety Disorder.

There are a number of situations which cause distress in individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder. These may include:

  • Being judged by others
  • Meeting people for the first time
  • Being the center of attention
  • Being observed while doing something
  • Social encounters that involve strangers

Who is Affected by Social Anxiety Disorder?

Many people are affected by Social Anxiety Disorder. However it is slightly more prevalent in women than in men. Recent studies have shown Social Anxiety Disorder is the third most common mental disorder in the world.

Substance Abuse and Social Anxiety Disorder.

Individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs as a means of coping with the stress, low self-esteem and depression the disorder causes. According to Timothy J. Bruce PHD, in the article “Social Anxiety Disorder: A Common Underrecognized Mental Disorder”, a significant percent of patients with Social Anxiety Disorder have a dependency on drugs or alcohol. “Up to 16 percent of patients who present with Social Phobia have alcohol abuse problems” says Bruce.

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder.

Social Anxiety Disorder is often misdiagnosed as panic attacks or depression. This can make treating the disorder quite difficult. However when correctly diagnosed, a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and medication has been found to be useful in treating individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder.

Despite the prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder, it is often misdiagnosed. Social Anxiety Disorder is however a very real disorder with specific symptoms. If the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder are left untreated they can be crippling to the person with the disorder and often result in the individual avoiding all situations involving social contact.

The avoidance of social situations has subsequent, negative consequences to the social, work life and finances of the afflicted individual. However with the right medical help there is a good outcome for those with the disorder. Individuals who believe they may be experiencing the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder should consult a health professional.

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