Are You a Social Phobic?
By: Beth McHugh 2006
Social phobics account for over 13% of the population, so the debilitating anxiety that people suffering from social phobia experience is not an uncommon phenomenon. But how do you know if you really do have the condition? The following is a list of criteria required for a diagnosis of social phobia.
- A strong and persistent fear in social situations of being exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible judgment by others. The individual feels that they will act in such a way as to bringing ridicule on themselves and be humiliated or embarrassed. In children, this behavior must be exhibited with their peer group, not just in interactions with adults.
- Exposure to the feared social situation almost always provokes extreme anxiety, including panic attacks. In children, the anxiety may take the form of crying, tantrums, freezing, or shrinking from social interaction with others.
- The sufferer recognizes that the level of fear they are experiencing is beyond what the general population experiences. In children this knowledge may be absent.
- The feared social situation is avoided altogether, or endured with intense anxiety and distress.
- The avoidance and/or distress experienced in social situations is sufficient to impact on social interaction, relationships, and job performance.
- The fear or avoidance is not due to the effect of a drug, legal or otherwise, or better accounted for by other disorders such as panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, a developmental disorder (such as autism or Asperger’s disorder), or body dysmorphic disorder.
- The fear in the social situation is not associated with physical conditions such as fear of stuttering, Parkinson’s disease, or a fear of exposing unusual eating behaviors, such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa, in public.
Social phobia can occur to varying degrees from almost complete social
isolation to living a limited life due to the crippling anxiety associated
with this condition. Finding support in the form of understanding and
helpful friends, and seeking treatment from a therapist who specializes
in social phobia and other anxiety conditions, can help to alleviate
much of the pain of this not uncommon, yet disabling, disorder.