Social phobia. Types, Causes, Symptoms, Prevention And More.

The social phobia also called disorder social anxiety disorder , is a chronic mental health condition, but learn coping skills in psychotherapy and medications can help you gain confidence and improve their ability to interact with others.

In social anxiety disorder , fear and anxiety lead to avoidance that can interrupt your life, severe stress can affect your daily routine, work, school or other activities. It is normal to feel nervous in some social situations. For example, going on a date or giving a presentation can cause that feeling of butterflies in your stomach.

Social phobia is an irrational, intense and persistent fear of a specific social object, activity or situation, which people avoid or endure with extreme anguish and anxiety. In some adolescents, the fear is limited to one or two particular situations, such as public speaking or starting a conversation, other adolescents are very anxious and fearful of any social situation.

Symptoms of social phobia

Feelings of shyness or discomfort in certain situations are not necessarily signs of social anxiety disorder, especially in children, comfort levels in social situations vary, depending on personality traits and life experiences. Some people are naturally reserved and others are more outgoing.

In contrast to daily nervousness, social anxiety disorder includes fear, anxiety, and avoidance that interfere with daily routine, work, school, or other activities, usually beginning in the early to mid-teens, although it can sometimes start in younger children or adults.

Emotional and behavioral symptoms

Signs and symptoms of the disorder of anxiety social persistence may include:

  • Fear of situations in which he can be judged.
  • Worrying about being embarrassed or humiliated.
  • Intense fear of interacting or speaking with strangers.
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious.
  • Fear of physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment, such as blushing, sweating, shaking, or having a shaky voice.
  • Avoid doing things or talking to people for fear of embarrassment.
  • Avoid situations where you could be the center of attention.
  • Having anxiety in anticipation of a dreaded activity or event.
  • Enduring a social situation with intense fear or anxiety.
  • Spending time after a social situation analyzing your performance and identifying flaws in your interactions.
  • Expecting the worst possible consequences of a negative experience during a social situation.

For children, anxiety about interacting with adults or peers can manifest itself by crying, having tantrums, clinging to parents, or refusing to speak in social situations.

The social phobia performance type is when you experience intense fear and anxiety only during speaking or acting in public, but not in other types of social situations.

Physical symptoms

Physical signs and symptoms can sometimes accompany social anxiety disorder and can include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Temblor.
  • Perspiration.
  • Upset stomach or nausea.
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Muscle tension.

Avoid common social situations

Common everyday experiences that can be difficult to bear when you have social anxiety disorder include, for example:

  • Interact with unknown or strange people.
  • Attend parties or social gatherings.
  • Go to work or school.
  • Starting conversations.
  • Making eye contact.
  • Other.
  • Entering a room where people are already seated.
  • Return of items to a store.
  • Eat in front of others.
  • Use a public restroom.

The symptoms of social phobia can change over time and can flare up if you are faced with a lot of stress or demands, although avoiding situations that produce anxiety can make you feel better in the short term, your anxiety is likely to continue in the long term if you do not receive treatment.

Causes of social phobia

Like many other mental health conditions, social anxiety disorder likely arises from a complex interplay of biological and environmental factors. Possible causes include:


It has been shown that there is a two to three times greater risk of having social phobia if a first-degree relative also has the disorder, this could be due to genetics and / or that children acquire social fears and avoid through processes of observational learning or psychosocial education of parents.

Studies of identical twins raised (by adoption) in different families have indicated that if one twin develops a social anxiety disorder, the other is 30 to 50 percent more likely than average to develop the disorder. To some extent this ‘heritability’ may not be specific, for example studies have found that if a parent has some form of clinical anxiety disorder or depression , then a child is more likely to develop it.

Social experiences

A previous negative social experience can be a trigger for social phobia, perhaps particularly for individuals with high “interpersonal sensitivity.” Approximately half of those diagnosed have a specific traumatic or humiliating social event that seems to be associated with the onset or worsening of the disorder, this type of event seems to be particularly related to specific social phobia (performance).

Cultural influences

Cultural factors that have been linked to social phobia include a society’s attitude toward shyness and avoidance, which affects the ability to establish relationships or access employment or education, and shame.

One study found that the effects of parenting differ by culture: American children seem more likely to develop social anxiety disorder if their parents emphasize the importance of the opinions of others and use shame as a disciplinary strategy, but This association was not found for Chinese children, as research has indicated that shyly inhibited children are more accepted and more likely to be considered for leadership and considered competent, in contrast to findings in Western countries. Purely demographic variables can also play a role.

Induced by substances

While alcohol initially alleviates social phobia, excessive alcohol abuse can worsen symptoms and can lead to panic disorder or worsen during alcohol intoxication and especially during withdrawal symptoms.

This effect is not unique to alcohol, but can also occur with long-term use of medications that have a similar mechanism of action to alcohol, such as benzodiazepines, which are sometimes prescribed as tranquilizers. Benzodiazepines possess anti-anxiety properties and may be useful for short-term treatment, like anticonvulsants, they tend to be mild and well tolerated, although there is a risk of habit forming.

Types of social phobia

Generalized social anxiety disorder

Those with generalized social anxiety were described as fearful of most social and performance situations, including:

  • Talking to authority figures.
  • Start conversations
  • Giving speeches.

People with generalized social anxiety were thought to be uncomfortable around anyone other than their closest family members. It was considered to be a more severe form of the disorder and was generally accompanied by a greater impairment in daily functioning. Complete content on generalized social anxiety disorder.  

Specific social anxiety disorder

Refers to specific situations, anxiety and fear were thought to be linked to a few social situations rather than most or all. For example, a person may be afraid to speak in public, but be okay mingling at a party. This form of social anxiety was thought to be extremely harmful, which could limit people from fully enjoying life, meeting friends, or even succeeding in a career. Learn more about specific social anxiety disorder.  (Complete article)


If left untreated, social phobia can run your life, anxieties can interfere with work, school, relationships, or enjoyment of life. Social anxiety disorder can cause:

  • Low self-esteem.
  • Trouble being assertive.
  • Self-shadowing negative.
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism.
  • Poor social skills.
  • Isolation and difficult social relationships.
  • Low academic and employment performance.
  • Substance abuse, such as drinking too much alcohol.
  • Suicide or suicide attempts.
  • Other anxiety disorders and certain other mental health disorders, particularly major depressive disorder and substance abuse problems, often occur with social anxiety disorder.

How is social phobia treated?

First, talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about your symptoms, he should do an exam and ask about your health history to make sure that an unrelated physical problem is not causing your symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or counselor. The first step to effective treatment is to get a diagnosis, usually by a mental health specialist.


Psychotherapy improves symptoms in most people with social anxiety disorder. In therapy, you learn to recognize and change negative thoughts about yourself and to develop skills to help you gain confidence in social situations.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective type of psychotherapy for anxiety, and it can be just as effective when done individually or in groups. It is based on exposure, you gradually work to face the situations that you fear the most, this can improve your coping skills and help you develop the confidence necessary to face anxiety-provoking situations, you can also participate in skills training or role plays to practice your social skills and gain comfort and confidence in relation to others. Read more about psychotherapy.


For some teens, taking a prescription drug can be an easy and effective treatment for social phobia, they work by reducing uncomfortable and often embarrassing symptoms.

In some cases, medication can dramatically reduce or even eliminate social phobia. Other teens do not react to a particular drug and do not get help at all, there is no way to predict whether a drug will be helpful or not. Sometimes you have to try several before you find one that works.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved four medications for social phobia: Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, and Effexor, although these are the only medications approved specifically for social phobia, other medications can also be used with success.

The advantage of medications is that they can be very effective and are taken only once a day, but there are some drawbacks: First, the medication only treats the symptoms, if you stop taking it, the symptoms of social phobia can return and second Instead, many teens have side effects from anxiety medications which can include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, and trouble sleeping.


Your doctor can determine a diagnosis based on:

  • Physical exam to help evaluate whether any medical conditions or medications can trigger anxiety symptoms.
  • Discussion of your symptoms, how often they occur and in what situations.
  • Review a list of situations to see if they make you feel anxious.
  • Self-report questionnaires on symptoms of social anxiety.
  • Criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Prevention of social phobia

There is no way to predict what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you are anxious:

  • Seek help soon. Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be more difficult to treat if you wait.
  • Keep a journal. Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health professional identify what is causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
  • Prioritize the problems in your life. You can reduce anxiety by carefully managing your time and energy, make sure you spend time doing things you enjoy.
  • Avoid consuming unhealthy substances. Alcohol and drug use and even caffeine or nicotine use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you are addicted to any of these substances, quitting smoking can make you feel anxious, if you can’t, consult your doctor or find a treatment program or support group to help you.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.