• Robert

What exactly is Social Anxiety Disorder?

The end of the year is problematic for many people for a variety of different reasons, shopping for presents, attending holiday functions, and the hustle and bustle of crowds almost everywhere you go. For people with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), those headaches are multiplied exponentially.



While social anxiety is not necessarily discussed much, it is the third most common mental disorder in adults worldwide, second only to depression and alcohol use disorder. Although this is a common disorder, it

often goes undiagnosed or treated effectively. The typical age of onset of SAD is usually during adolescence (13-15 years of age) but has been diagnosed in children as you as 8 years old and in some instances

diagnosed later in life after a significant life event. There are certain predispositions for SAD including shyness or anxiety as a child and SAD sometimes coexists with other disorders such as depression, alcohol or substance abuse and body dysmorphic disorder. If left untreated SAD has a chronic life-long pattern that lasts into adulthood.




What exactly is Social Anxiety Disorder?


“Although this is a common disorder, it often goes undiagnosed or treated effectively. The typical age of onset of SAD is usually during adolescence (13-15 years of age) but has been diagnosed in children as you as 8 years old and in some instances diagnosed later in life after a significant life event. ”

Social Anxiety Disorder manifests itself as a marked or persistent fear of being in social or performance situations, typically in response to a fear of being judged negatively in those situations.


How does Social Anxiety present itself?


Social Anxiety Disorder manifests itself as a marked or persistent fear of being in social or performance situations, typically in response to a fear of being judged negatively in those situations. This feeling of negative evaluation overlaps with the concept of shame.


Individuals may believe that they may act inappropriately or that their physiological symptoms of anxiety (like sweating or heart palpitations) will be noticeable to people around them and therefore lead to further embarrassment and criticism. People with SAD (#socialanxiety) may be shy or have difficulty talking

with authority figures and have difficulty in what others perceive as normal everyday situations like buying a coffee. Many people with SAD desire social companionship but are afraid to appear foolish and many avoid social situations completely.



“There are certain predispositions for SAD including shyness or anxiety as a child and SAD sometimes coexists with other disorders such as depression, alcohol or substance abuse and body dysmorphic disorder (#bodydysmorphicdisorder).”

There have been many advancements in the understanding and treatment SAD in the past two decades. The most commonly used treatment and most successfully therapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

What can be done about Social Anxiety Disorder?


The CBT approach to SAD is a multi-pronged approach that aims to manage symptoms, challenge irrational beliefs and ultimately reduce the social anxiety. The main components include psycho-education, cognitive restructuring, exposure or desensitization, and homework.

1. Psycho-education involves teaching clients about the relationship between their thoughts, emotions and how this creates physiological reactions.

2. Cognitive restructuring is another way of saying challenging irrational beliefs. It is based on the assumption that clients with social anxiety have irrational beliefs about how dangerous social situations may or may not be.

3. Exposure or desensitization involves gradual exposure to social situations either through roleplay or actual field trips in order desensitize them to social situations and reinforce the rational belief that these situations are not as dangerous as they think.

4. Homework may include exposure field trips or worksheets to identify beliefs when they arise and exercises to challenge or dispute those beliefs.

No one technique listed above will be successful in the treatment of SAD and an appropriate combination of the above techniques, delivered at the appropriate time have proven effective in the treatment of SAD.

Does this sound interesting?

If this sounds interesting to you please contact me to discuss whether this type of therapy is for you. Contact me by email feelgoodcounseling@hotmail.com or phone 314-467-0155.


References

Herbert, J. D., Rheingold, A. A., & Goldstein, S. G. (2002). Brief cognitive behavioral group therapy for social anxiety disorder. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9(1), 1-8. doi:10.1016/s1077-7229(02)80033-5

Veale, D. "Treatment of Social Phobia." Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 9.4 (2003): 258-64. Web.

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