Are you just shy or is it a social anxiety disorder?
The classic sign of a social anxiety disorder is a strong fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social situations, research finds.
Bear in mind that many people are apprehensive in unfamiliar social situations or with those they do not know.
Social anxiety disorder is more than being shy.
To be a social anxiety disorder, the fear should be so great that the social situation can only be born with considerable distress.
Either that or social situations are often avoided — sometimes causing serious personal disadvantage.
Many people with the disorder are reluctant to seek help, precisely because of the embarrassment they feel and/or the potential for humiliation they sense.
• Try Dr Jeremy Dean’s ebook: The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
Around 13% of the general population are thought to have a social anxiety disorder.
Dr Kristy L. Dalrymple, the author of the study, said:
“Despite its prevalence, social anxiety disorder has not received the same attention from the public or mainstream media as other disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder.
Due to its social and economic impact, it merits further study in order to help researchers and clinicians determine possible causes, and the best treatment.
This isn’t about overcoming shyness.
This is about helping our patients who suffer from a disorder that prevents them from living a happy and healthy life.”
Unfortunately, a social anxiety disorder can significantly affect people’s lives.
Experiencing social anxiety disorder is linked to fewer romantic relationships, greater unemployment and fewer days worked, as well as lower productivity.
Dr Dalrymple said:
“There are many differing opinions about social anxiety disorder and the best treatment.
Should it be treated with medication, behavioral therapy, or both?
The significant increase in the prescription of antidepressant medications (which often are used to treat SAD) over the past several years — an increase of 400 percent — should be considered when determining the best approach.
Are we simply medicating, or are we helping patients to truly improve their quality of life?”
The study was published in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics (Dalrymple, 2012).