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Social phobia makes life difficult for patients suffering from it. People with social phobia fear seemingly ordinary, everyday situations. However, this problem can be combated - learn about the symptoms, causes and treatment of social anxiety disorder.

Social phobiaoccurs, as the name suggests, in social situations - but not only. Patients withsocial phobiamay experience anxiety when performing various activities in the presence of other people.

Social phobia: symptoms

Social phobia can manifest itself not only during the presentation at university or at work, but also in theoretically quite ordinary situations - fear in a person with social phobia is caused by eating in the company, talking on the phone or using public toilets. People with social phobia express a strong belief that they and their behavior will be negatively assessed by others.

Among the symptoms of social phobia, there may also be somatic complaints. In fearful situations, patients may experience facial flushing, excessive sweating, hand tremors or palpitations - the belief that the environment will notice these kinds of symptoms is also one of the reasons for patients' anxiety.

Symptoms of social phobia in children and adolescents may be slightly different from the symptoms presented above. In this group of patients, the existence of the problem may be indicated by outbursts of crying, attacks of hysteria or refusal to speak among other people, as well as negation of separation from the parent.

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It happens that in the course of social phobia patients start to abuse psychoactive substances. People with this problem use measures such as alcohol or drugs to alleviate their anxiety symptoms - and there is no need to convince anyone that this type of behavior may be conducive to the development of addiction, which not only threatens the patient with another problem, but can also contribute to to perpetuate an already existing social phobia.

When discussing phobiassocial, it is impossible not to mention the term related to the topic, i.e. social anxiety. Some authors use this term to describe the symptoms occurring in the course of sociophobia, while others are of the opinion that these ailments are identical to those described earlier, but of much less intensity, so their occurrence is not a basis for the diagnosis of mental disorders.


Anticipatory anxiety

The problems related to social phobia also include the so-called anticipatory anxiety. Generally speaking, it consists in the fact that the patient is afraid of the event before it even happens - in the case of anticipatory anxiety, anxiety and the associated somatic symptoms may appear several hours before a public speech, and - in the most extreme cases - even several weeks. before the scheduled event.

This type of anxiety is unfavorable in that due to its presence, the patient can avoid social situations, and thus the social phobia may persist.

Social phobia: causes

The causes of social phobia have not been clearly established so far. However, there are at least a few hypotheses and observations regarding the factors involved in the development of the problem.

Evidence that there is a link between biological aspects of brain function and social phobia may be that drugs that alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain (e.g., serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can reduce anxiety symptoms in patients.

The hyperactivity of the amygdala is also postulated in the development of social phobia. This structure belongs to the so-called the limbic system and is involved in feeling emotions, incl. fear - excessive activity of the amygdala would be the basis for the symptoms of social phobia in patients.

Genetic determinants are also taken into account in the pathogenesis of social phobia. The explanation for such a relationship is the fact that the increased risk of the problem occurs in people who have a family member experiencing social phobia - so it can be assumed that the inherited genes are to some extent responsible for the problem.

Psychological factors, such as exposure (in childhood and adolescence) to harassment or ridicule by peers, are also considered as causes of social phobia.

Interestingly, parents can contribute to the occurrence of social phobia. Their overprotection and constant control may mean that a child (still protected and isolated from others) may not learncorrect patterns of behavior and in the future react to seemingly ordinary social situations with anxiety symptoms.

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Social Phobia: Treatment

Psychotherapy is the basis for treating social anxiety disorder. Among the techniques available to her, in the case of the discussed problem, the most important is cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Its assumption is, inter alia, teaching the patient to react properly to the situations he experiences. This is done through, inter alia, imagining by a given person those events that cause fear in him - the role of the psychotherapist in such a situation is to make the patient aware of why the mind and body react in an undesirable way and to convert anxious thinking into correct thought patterns.

Pharmacotherapy plays only a supporting role in the treatment of social anxiety disorder. Patients are used, inter alia, serotonin reuptake inhibitors (drugs from the SSRI group), which are particularly beneficial in those patients with comorbid depression.

In the case of significant anticipatory anxiety, patients may be offered benzodiazepines, which - taken a certain time before social activity - are to facilitate it. With significant somatic symptoms (e.g. extreme sweating or significantly increased heart rate), beta-blockers may be used temporarily.

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