Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)?

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also known as Social Phobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive fear and avoidance of social situations. People with SAD often experience intense fear and worry about being judged or negatively evaluated by others, which can lead to self-isolation, diminished self-esteem, and depressed mood. SAD can interfere with a person’s ability to attend work, school, or carry out daily activities.

Common Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

People with social anxiety disorder experience physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and trembling when in social situations. They also experience intense fear of being embarrassed, judged, rejected, or ridiculed by others in social situations. Common signs and symptoms of SAD include:

  • Inability to make and maintain eye contact
  • Excessive sweating and trembling
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Fear of speaking in public
  • Inability to connect with others
  • Fear of being judged or evaluated negatively
  • Excessive fear of humiliation or embarrassment
  • Feeling anxious in anticipation of social events
  • Excessive worry about how one is perceived by others
  • Difficulty concentrating in social situations

Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder

The exact cause of Social Anxiety Disorder is unknown, however, it is believed to be the result of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Research suggests that SAD is likely due to an exaggerated fear response, which can be triggered in certain social situations. It is also thought that people who experience social anxiety are more sensitive to criticism or rejection, and may feel more embarrassed than others in similar situations. Additionally, those with SAD may have low self-esteem or self-confidence, and may be more likely to ruminate on negative thoughts and experiences.

Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is treatable and there are many effective treatments available. Treatment generally involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medications, and/or other therapies. CBT helps to restructure the thoughts and beliefs that lead to anxious or fearful reactions in social situations. Medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may also be prescribed to reduce symptoms. Other therapies, such as mindfulness techniques, relaxation, and journaling can also be beneficial for reducing anxiety.