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Social Anxiety Disorder

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

It is normal to feel anxious or nervous in social situations, for example: meeting unfamiliar people, attending a function or giving a speech or presentation at school or at work. However, people with social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) feel highly anxious in those same situations. They have a marked fear or anxiety of social or performance situations in which they are exposed to possible scrutiny by others.


Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder commonly include:

  • Blushing or stammering when trying to speak
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or diarrhoea
  • Racing heart
  • Trembling
People with social anxiety also worry excessively that they will behave in a manner in which other people will judge, criticise, laugh at or humiliate them. These social or performance situations are either avoided or endured with extreme fear or anxiety, which can cause significant distress and affect their personal, social and work life.

Social anxiety can be overcome with effective psychotherapy and/or medications. Psychological therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy, exposure therapy and response prevention therapy can help. Strategies such as relaxation techniques and regular exercise may be helpful in reducing anxiety and are is also good for general mental well-being. Medications may also be prescribed to relieve anxiety symptoms.

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