Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia: Symptoms

November 12, 2012

Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia: Symptoms

Social anxiety disorder is a treatable mental illness that happens mostly to teenagers and adults, but can happen in children. Unfortunately, people with mental illness fear getting treatment for many reasons. One reason is the fears of being bankrupted by the financial cost of treatment. Another is a wrong belief that they are incurable. But the most common reason is the fear of being stigmatized by others for having an anxiety disorder. Whatever the reason, many people suffering from social anxiety disorder do not seek help. It takes a crisis in order for them to go to a hospital or a doctor. Concerned friends and family members may have to actively encourage their loved ones to get help, even to the point of driving the suffering loved one to a doctor’s office. If you notice the symptoms described in this article as characteristic of you co-worker, friend or family member, please ask them to get help. Emotional Symptoms Fears of being humiliated in public are not to be confused with natural shyness. Someone who is shy may fear speaking in public but will still enjoy going out to the theatre or someplace where the spotlight isn’t on them. People with social anxiety disorder always feel that they are under the spotlight to the point where they become virtual prisoners inside of their homes. These fears can press so strongly on a person that he or she experiences a panic attack. The person becomes very confused, seems incapable of learning any news tasks and cannot make even simple decisions. Some patients report feeling that they are absolutely sure they are going to die.

Physical Symptoms People suffering from social anxiety disorder have very real physical symptoms when they have to go out in public or if they think they are being watched by others. Eventually the fear of having these symptoms in public can trigger symptoms just at the mere thought of going out in public. People feel physical symptoms whether or not they go through an actual traumatic experience in public. Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:

  • Choking sensation in throat or chest

  • Chest pains

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Breaking out into a sudden sweat

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Sudden diarrhea

  • Sudden urinary incontinence

  • Hands suddenly feel very cold

  • Stuttering

  • Inability to lift the head

  • Panting or rapid shallow breathing

  • Uncontrollable shivering or shaking

  • Fainting or feeling very dizzy

  • Visual problems such as blurred vision, double vision or tunnel vision.

Many of the physical symptoms are caused by lack of oxygen. But symptoms may differ slightly for each individual. For example, some people in a panic attack caused by social phobia disorder cannot look at anyone’s eyes or chew their lower lips until the lips bleed. Some may rock slightly back and forth without realizing it. Some people may feel as if they were frozen in place. Symptoms tend to get worse over time, so they should not be ignored or dismissed as a “phase.”

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