Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) or (SAnD): Symptoms and treatment

What is Social Anxiety Disorder? | Where it can occur | Cause of Social Anxiety Disorder | Symptoms | Additional Problems | Treatment |

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) or (SAnD) also known as Social Phobia is usually defined as an intense fear experienced in social situations or an intense anxiety about the prospect of being in a social situation especially where there is the prospect of social interaction or that the individuals feels they will have to talk or communicate with others.

Where it can occur

Social Anxiety Disorder can occur in any one or all social situations including:

  • Meetings
  • Presentations / lectures
  • Dating
  • Parties
  • Educational Classes
  • Family gatherings
  • One-to-one meetings and similar situations
  • Social events, findfind cheapcheap etc.

An individual can be diagnosed for a specific situational disorder such as the fear of work place meetings or a generalised disorder where the individual displays the symptoms in any or a range of social situations.

Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorders usually stem from an intense, looklook a persistent and chronic fear of being judged by others in a social situation and of being embarrassed or humiliated either by the situation or by one's own actions. However some medical disorders can also give rise to Social Anxiety Disorder like symptoms.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder include:

  • Feeling of dread, excessive anxiety and fear before during and after any or specific social events or gatherings
  • Excessive blushing,
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis),
  • Shaking or trembling particularly of the hands and legs
  • Heart palpitations,
  • Sickness or nausea,
  • Stammering
  • Excessively fast speech
  • Mind going blank
  • Panic attacks may also occur in extreme cases
  • Performance anxiety both before and during the event and or fretting or ruminating about their performance after the event. Often this can be accompanied by the belief their performance was unsatisfactory even when there is evidence to the contrary
  • Flight / avoidance behaviours

Additionally some people with Social Anxiety Disorder can:

  • Become ill or have an 'accident' before or during an event in order to escape attendance
  • Be overly self-concious and become especially concerned about appearance both physically and behaviourally
  • Overly sensitive especially to feedback
  • Pathological lying or making stories up to preserve or enhance their self-image. This is often a strong indication of Social Anxiety Disorder where the condition has been previously undiagnosed.
  • Aggression or excessive irritation especially before or during a social event
  • Freezing, not being able to move or speak in extreme cases.

Additional problems

To combat the symptoms some people turn to alcohol or drugs. There is a likelihood in such situations of the individual developing alcohol or drug addictions / dependency. Eating disorders have also been connected with Social Anxiety Disorder in a number of studies.

How common is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder is considered to be the most common anxiety disorder and the third most common psychatric disorder after depression and alcoholism. However it is often undiagnosed.



Social Anxiety Disorder sufferers can be treated with psychotherapy, usually Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy which is very effective or medication or both. Both the live Fear Course and the online Fear Course is particularly effective for Social Anxiety Disorders.



American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Anxiety disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev., pp. 450-456). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.

Belzer, K. D., McKee, M. B., & Liebowitz, M. R. (2005). Social Anxiety Disorder: Current Perspectives on Diagnosis and Treatment. Primary Psychiatry, 12(11), 40-53.

Bruch, M. A. (1989). Familial and developmental antecedents of social phobia: Issues and findings. Clinical Psychology Review, 9, 37-47.

Burns, D. D. (1999). Feeling good: The new mood therapy (Rev. ed.). New York: Avon. ISBN 0-380-81033-6.

Crozier, W. R., & Alden, L. E. (2001). International Handbook of Social Anxiety: Concepts, Research, and Interventions Relating to the Self and Shyness. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. ISBN 0-471-49129-2.

Hales, R. E., & Yudofsky, S. C. (Eds.). (2003). Social phobia. In Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry (4th ed., pp. 572-580). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Stein M.B., Gorman J.M. (2001). Unmasking social anxiety disorder. J Psychiatry Neurosci 26 (3): 185-9


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