Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is a mental health disorder characterized by a fear of being watched, judged, or humiliated by others. Social phobia also has another name, namely social anxiety disorder.
Anyone can experience fear or anxiety when interacting with other people. But in people with social phobia, this fear is experienced excessively and persists, affecting relationships with other people, productivity at work, and achievement in school.
Social phobia is more common in teens and young adults, and in people who feel publicly humiliated. People who have mental disorders like this also often experience glossophobia.
Symptoms of Social Phobia
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder or social phobia may appear particularly in the following situations:
- Make eye contact with other people
- Interact with strangers
- Eat in front of other people
- Work or school
- Entering a room full of people
- Attend parties or gatherings
Therefore, sufferers will usually avoid a number of the above situations.
The fear felt by people with social phobia does not only last for a moment, but is permanent, and will cause physical symptoms in the form of:
- Red face
- Speak too slowly
- Stiff posture
- Muscles get tense
- Excessive sweating
- Heart beat
- Hard to breathe
When to go to the doctor
The fear of being judged by others to the point of feeling judged is actually a natural feeling for everyone. A person is also considered normal if he occasionally avoids situations that make him uncomfortable, such as meeting new people.
However, if the fear or anxiety lasts for a long time (about 6 months), has interfered with daily activities, namely preventing him from interacting with other people, and affecting his work productivity or achievement at school, immediately consult this problem with a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Causes of Social Phobia
Social phobia or a social anxiety disorder can be triggered by new situations or things that have never been done before, such as giving a public presentation or giving a speech. Although the exact cause is unknown, this condition is thought to be related to the following factors:
Social phobia may arise because the sufferer has experienced embarrassing or unpleasant events, which were witnessed by other people.
Heredity or parenting
Social phobia tends to run in families. However, it is not certain whether this is triggered by genetic factors or due to parenting, for example, being too restrictive. Another possibility is that children imitate the attitude of their parents who often feel anxious when dealing with other people.
Fear is strongly influenced by a part of the brain called the amygdala. An overactive amygdala will make a person experience a stronger fear. This condition can increase the risk of excessive anxiety when interacting with other people.
In addition to the factors above, having certain body conditions or illnesses, such as facial scars or paralysis due to polio, can increase a person’s risk of developing social phobia.
Diagnosis of Social Phobia
Doctors can determine if a person has social phobia by the symptoms they experience. The doctor will also perform a physical examination, if these symptoms cause physical disturbances, such as palpitations or shortness of breath. In addition, the doctor may perform further tests, such as heart record tests, if needed.
Social Phobia Therapy
To overcome social phobia, psychiatrists can use 2 methods, psychotherapy and medication administration which are described below:
One form of psychotherapy to overcome a social phobia is cognitive behavioural therapy. This therapy aims to reduce anxiety in patients. The patient will be faced with a situation that makes him anxious or afraid, then a psychologist or psychiatrist will provide a solution to deal with the situation.
Over time, it is hoped that the patient’s confidence will increase to deal with this situation, even without assistance.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy lasts for 12 weeks, can be done alone with a psychiatrist or in groups with other patients.
The psychiatrist will also provide understanding to the patient’s family about this disorder, in order to provide support for the patient to recover.
Several types of drugs can also be used to treat this phobia. The psychiatrist will give you a light dose of medication first, then gradually increase it. A number of drugs used to treat it are:
– Anti-anxiety or anti-anxiety drugs
Medications such as benzodiazepines can reduce anxiety quickly. However, this drug is usually only used in the short term because it can cause addiction.
– Antidepressant drugs
In addition to dealing with depression, antidepressant drugs can also be used to treat social phobia. Unlike anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressant drugs, such as fluoxetine, do not work quickly and are used for a long period of time.
– Beta blockers
This drug aims to overcome the physical symptoms that arise due to fear or anxiety, namely palpitations. The drugs used include bisoprolol.
The results of treatment for these mental problems are not always immediately apparent. Sometimes, sufferers even need to take drugs for years to prevent a recurrence. For optimal results, take treatment according to the doctor’s recommendations and regularly discuss with the doctor about the development of the disease condition.
Complications of Social Phobia
If left untreated, the social phobia will cause sufferers to:
- Feeling inferior
- Unable to interact with other people
- Unable to be assertive
Very sensitive to criticism Conditions like this will interfere with the achievement and productivity of sufferers, both at school and at work. Worse, sufferers can fall into a state of alcoholism, drug abuse, and attempted suicide.