Social Anxiety Disorder

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder is a persistent and intense fear of a certain social or performance situations, ranging from public speaking to ordinary social interaction. The fear is accompanied by unpleasant somatic symptoms, such as heart palpitations, sweating, trembling and blushing. People with Social Anxiety Disorder tend to avoid the situations that create anxiety or endure them with great emotional distress.

How Common is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder is the most common of the anxiety disorders, affecting between 4 and 8 percent of the population. Equal numbers of males and females are affected by the disorder, as well as equal numbers of people of various races and cultures. The average age of onset of social phobia is early to middle adolescence, but the disorder has been documented in children as young as age 8. We do not know for certain what causes social phobia, but researchers have found both psychological and biological factors that tend to contribute to this disorder. Psychological factors involve the social environment. For example, people with Social Anxiety Disorder may have grown up in an environment where they observe shyness or avoidance in a family member. They also may have experienced a traumatic social experience. Biological factors include having a family history of closely-related relatives with anxiety disorders, although exactly how this relates to the development of the condition has yet to be determined.