Social Anxiety
Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

The main characteristic of social phobia is the fear of acting in an embarrassing or humiliating way in front of others and of receiving negative judgments. Social anxiety can lead those who suffer from it to avoid most social situations, for fear of behaving in a "wrong" way and being misjudged. Social phobia is a rather widespread disorder among the population. According to some studies, the percentage of people who suffer from it ranges from 3% to 13%. Also, according to these studies, it seems that social anxiety characterizes women more than men. Usually the situations most feared by those suffering from social phobia (or social anxiety) are those that involve the need to do something in front of other people, such as expose a relationship or even just sign, call or eat; sometimes it can create social anxiety simply by walking into a room where there are people already seated, or by talking to a friend of yours.

Characteristics of social phobia

People who suffer from social phobia are afraid of appearing anxious and of showing the "signs", that is, they fear becoming red in the face, shaking, stammering, sweating, having a heart pounding, or remaining silent without being able to talk to the others, without having the “ready” joke. Finally, it often happens that those who experience social anxiety, when they are not in a feared situation, recognize their fear as unreasonable and consequently tend to accuse and blame themselves for not being able to do things that everyone does. Social phobia, if left untreated, tends to remain stable and chronic, and can often result in other disorders such as depression. This disorder appears to normally begin in adolescence or early adulthood.

There are usually two types of Social Phobia:

  • simple, when the person experiences social anxiety only in one or a few types of situations (for example he is unable to speak in public, but has no problems in other social situations such as attending a party or talking to a stranger);
  • generalized, when the person fears almost all social situations. In the most severe and pervasive forms, the diagnosis of Avoidant Personality Disorder tends to be preferred.
Social phobia symptoms

The main characteristic of social phobia is the fear of being in social situations or of being observed while doing something, such as speaking in public or, more simply, talking to a person, writing, eating or calling. In feared social situations, individuals with social anxiety are worried about appearing embarrassed and, above all, fear that others will judge them to be anxious, weak, "crazy," or stupid. They are symptoms of social phobia, therefore, fear of speaking in public because of the worry of suddenly forgetting what to say or because of the fear that others will notice the trembling of the hands or voice, or extreme anxiety when talking with others for fear of appearing unclear.

Social phobia cure
As with other anxiety disorders, cognitive behavioural psychotherapy has generally proved to be very effective in the treatment of social phobia. Some drugs can sometimes help.
Cognitive behavioural psychotherapy is centered on the "here and now", on the direct treatment of the symptom. It aims on the one hand to modify dysfunctional thoughts, on the other hand to offer the person better skills and abilities in dealing with feared situations. Dysfunctional or irrational beliefs are thoughts that people make about the events in which they are involved and which in turn derive from rigid and not very adaptive cognitive schemes. Such as the belief that showing anxiety is a sign of weakness or the belief that you are always closely watched by others. Such thoughts only come into operation, as it were, when a person is faced with a social situation. That is, he must expose himself to a possible judgment of others, thus triggering anxiety and the consequent feeling of losing control. The treatment of social phobia, on the one hand, aims to modify these assumptions during psychotherapy work, on the other hand, it seeks to teach skills to better manage social situations. These skills usually include both techniques (such as relaxation training) for managing anxiety, and techniques for managing verbal interaction. Cognitive behavioural therapy for the treatment of social phobia can be conducted very well in individual sessions. This does not mean that, when possible, group treatment has considerable advantages, starting with the obvious fact of already being in a social situation.