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Social Anxiety Disorder is the third most common psychiatric disorder in the United States. Approximately 13% of people in the United States have this condition at some point in their lives. Social Anxiety Disorder typically onsets in childhood or adolescence. If untreated, Social Anxiety Disorder typically worsens with time. Also, individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder are at greater risk for depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide, even more so than those with other anxiety disorders.

Social anxiety disorder refers to a marked and persistent fear of being negatively judged by others. Anxiety may be experienced in a variety of social situations including, but not limited to:

  • Public speaking

  • Participating or presenting at meetings

  • Talking with a group of people or authority figures

  • Having one-on-one conversations

  • Being assertive

  • Dating or attending parties

  • Writing or eating in front of others


Before and during the social situation, individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder may experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath. After the social situation, they may brood over what happened, picking apart the details of the event. Many people feel anxious in these situations from time to time. However, individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder experience significant distress and impairment in their daily lives as a result of their anxiety surrounding social situations. 

Individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder avoid social situations or endure them with significant distress, and have done so for longer than 6 months. The anxiety significantly interferes with daily functioning, job performance, or social life. Sometimes, individuals may not even recognize that their anxiety is excessive or unreasonable, but may be told by others. Individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder may find it difficult to finish their education or interview for jobs. They also may have few friendships or romantic relationships as a result of their anxiety.

Two main approaches have been proven effective to treat Social Anxiety Disorder: Cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. The ABHC offers cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals change the way they think about situations and develop more helpful strategies to cope with anxiety. Medications, such as antidepressants, are prescribed for social anxiety disorder. Consult your physician about medication for Social Anxiety Disorder. 

For more information on treatment programs for Social Anxiety Disorder offered at the ABHC, please email us at or call us at (850) 645-1766.

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