Social Anxiety Disorder, also called S.A.D. or social phobia, is intense
fear, distress, or inability to function in social situations. The intensity of
the disorder can range from performance only to everyday situations.
Rates vary because social anxiety disorder often overlaps with other
It is the third most prevalent psychological disorder and the most
common anxiety disorder.
It affects 5% of Adult
Americans, 4.2% of
Canadians, and 2.7% of
Australians. age of onset is 11.5
years of age. Onset after 25 is
Shyness, which can lead to social anxiety disorder, is genetic.
Infants which are more inhibited often have parents who are shy
Social Anxiety disorder can develop when a shy person is subject
to certain experiences.
Social Anxiety disorder is connected to past traumatic social experiences.
It can develop after a person is ignored, rejected or bullied.
It is also affected by cultural attitudes toward a reserved personality.
It is more likely that a child will have social anxiety if their parents
placed emphasis on the opinions of others or used shame as a
Neural Cause: Neurotransmitters
Dopamine: the levels of dopamine are lower in those with social
In some studies, dopamine's binding affinity was lower in people with
S.A.D., but that is believed to be only one possible cause of low levels
of this neurotransmitter
Serotonin: there is some evidence that people with social anxiety
disorder have reduced serotonin receptors.
Affected Brain Areas
The amygdala is hypersensitive in people with S.A.D. The amygdala
controls fear cognition and emotional learning. This results in affected
people overestimating social threats.
The anterior cingulate cortex is also hypersensitive. It usually registers
physical pain , but in people with S.A.D., it detects social pain (such as
being left out of a group) as physical pain.
High performance standards
Inaccurate memory of social events
Constant review of actions of possible embarrassment
People affected by social anxiety disorder expect a negative outcome in
social situations. They go over scenarios in their head of what could go
wrong and how to prevent it. After a social situation, they review and
overanalyze everything they do, looking for social errors. This process
can take weeks.
Afraid of social activities )group outings, dating, or talking to strangers)
Nervous around authority figures
Avoids social interaction
Avoids eye contact
Avoidance of social interaction
Abnormal walk (so concerned about how others perceive them that they
These physical symptoms worsen anxiety. Knowing that someone knows
you are anxious only makes you more anxious. A combination of these
factors can result in a panic attack.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: questions patient’s though process and
changes reactions to anxiety provoking situations
Ironically, group sessions help patients with social anxiety disorder
because they learn about others who are living with the same condition
A popular treatment for this disorder is self help books, tutorials, and
Medication: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the most popular
drug. Over the counter drugs for nausea, or other physiological
symptoms, are not successful.
Self help treatment
Having Social Anxiety Disorder
is when you do this before
talking to people: