What is Social Phobia or Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety involves a fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social interactions, public places or performance situations. This can create anxiety, discomfort and avoidance of such situations.

What are the symptoms of Social Anxiety?

  1. Social Anxiety is characterized by marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the person is exposed to possible scrutiny by others. Examples include social interactions, having a conversation, meeting new people, or being observed while eating or drinking and performing in front of others, like giving a speech or telling a story.
  2. These situations are feared or avoided due to thoughts of being judged or negatively evaluated causing a fear of humiliation or embarrassment, rejection or offending others.
  3. The Social Anxiety situations almost always provoke fear or anxiety.
  4. The Social Anxiety situations are actively avoided, or are endured with intense fear or anxiety.
  5. The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the social  situation.
  6. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting for 6 months or more.
  7. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes significant distress or impairment in normal social, occupation, or other important areas of functioning.

Individuals with performance only social anxiety disorder have performance fears often related to public speaking, athletics, or stage performance (musicians, actors). Individuals with performance only social anxiety disorder do not fear or avoid nonperformance social situations.

What are the causes of Social Anxiety?

There is no one single cause of Social Anxiety. However risk factors include negative childhood adversity and maltreatment as a child.  Underlying traits include fear of judgement or negative evaluation, self-criticism, self worth issues. Social Anxiety is heritable and children with high behavioral inhibition as more susceptible to environmental influences such as socially anxious parents.

How can you treat Social Anxiety?

Dr. Dufford and Anxiety Treatment Services provide integrative and comprehensive therapy for Social Anxiety including individual therapy, group support and behavioral fieldwork.  Modalities include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy including guided imagery practice and real life desensitization/graduated exposure therapy, Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy, EMDR, Energy Psychology, and Meditation/Mindfulness.

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