Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is characterized by overwhelming anxiousness and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Common symptoms are:

• Intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others
• And of doing things that will embarrass them

A person with social phobia can worry for weeks before the dreaded situation. The worry can become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities. This worry also makes it difficult to make and keep friends.

Many people realize their fears are excessive or unreasonable, but are still unable to overcome them. For those who confront their friends and socialize with others, they usually are very anxious before, uncomfortable throughout the encounter and worry for long periods of time afterward.

Limited social phobia is:

• Limited to one situation such as talking to people, eating or drinking with people

Generalized social phobia is:

• The person experiences anxiety around almost anyone other than family members

What are the physical symptoms that accompany the disorder?

• Blushing
• Profuse sweating
• Trembling
• Nausea
• Difficulty talking

How many adults are affected?

• About 15 million American adults

Who is most likely affected?

• Women and men are equally likely to develop the disorder that usually begins in childhood or early adolescence

Does genetics play a part in social phobia?

• There is some evidence that genetic factors are involved

Are there any other illnesses present?

• It is often accompanied by other anxiety disorders or depression
• Substance abuse may develop if people try to self-medicate their anxiety

What is the treatment for this disorder?

• It can be successfully treated with certain kinds of psychotherapy or medications

Specific Phobias

An intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger is called a specific phobia. Common specific phobias centered on closed-in places include:

• Afraid of heights
• Fear of escalators or elevators
• Fear of tunnels
• Fear of highway driving
• Fear of water
• Fear of flying
• Fear of dogs
• Fear of injuries involving blood

These types of phobias are not just extreme fear. They are irrational fear of a particular thing. Some people with these types of phobias may be able to ski on very high mountains, but unable to go above the 2nd floor of an office building.

Most adults with phobias realize the fears are unrealistic, but still have problems facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation that brings about a panic attack or severe anxiety.

How many adults are affected with specific phobias?

• Approximately 19.2 million American adults

Who is more likely to acquire phobias?

• They are twice as common in women as men and usually appear in childhood or adolescence and persist into adulthood.

What causes phobias?

• The cause is not well understood
• There is evidence that the tendency to develop phobias may run in families

What is the treatment?

• Usually targeted psychotherapy

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional

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© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

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Author: Connie Limon. Visit
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