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Close to 20 million Americans fear strangers and have spent sleepless nights, hungry and unable to meet their daily financial and personal needs simply because they fear to go out into social places. This has made social anxiety disorder the third mental disorder in the USA affecting most adolescents and younger adults. This people have developed xenophobia (fear for strangers) and thus unwilling to go social places because they are embarrassed and do not wish to be seen in public. Different doctors believe it is caused by depression especially after drug abuse. This condition is very serious since the victims are overly shy because the fear being judged or criticized by others thus avoid being seen in the public. Though the term social phobia was coined in the beginning of the 20th century, it has been in mankind society since 400BC. Hippocrates described this condition as love for darkness and inability to endure or sit in lightsome place due totimorousness and suspicion (Cottrill, 2011). The following document shall discuss on social phobia, its causes, treatment, symptoms in various groups and its effects.
What is social anxiety disorder?
Many scholars across the globe have different definitions of social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia). However, the most common meaning of this term is a condition/situation where an individual(s) has awkward fear or nervousness of a social situation (Myers, 2009). The individuals suffering from this condition feel that others are judging or criticizing them for the mistakes that the mistakes that they have or will do and anything done in public will be a mistake.
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What causes social anxiety disorder?
There are wide ranges of theories explaining on the causes of social phobia. Scientists and doctors have not yet confirmed one real cause of social phobia. However, doctors and scientists believe that this condition is triggered by set of factors including environmental factors, chemical imbalances, genetic factors and physical changes during development.
The genetic factors theory supports that the condition is as a result of passing shyness genetic predispositions from parents to their children. Thus, a child whose parents had shyness genes ends up being shy or socio-phobic.
The environmental factors theory suggests that this condition develop because of environmental hostilities extended to the victims. This means that there is a possibility of people around the victims including friends, parents or peers tendency to criticize or judge the victims as a result, the affected group opt to keep away from public because they fear that whatever they will do might be wrong and attract more criticism thus they develop the condition (Myers, 2009). The chemical imbalance theory suggest that when some chemicals in the brain like Serotonin, Norepinephrine and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) (chemicals in the brain, which determine how individuals feel about a given thought or situation) are not in shortage or in excess than the required amount, this condition might arise.
The physical changes or developmental theory suggests that as individuals grow and develop; the physical changes on the parts of their bodies like the breasts, beards and deep voice makes the group in this stage to be shy especially during adolescent stage of human development. Thus, they will develop a fear of being seen in public with belief that they will be laughed at or judged by others. Another cause of this condition is the abuse of drugs and substances. Most of the youths who are using alcohol have developed this condition thus the doctors have assumed alcohol causes depression which leads to development of this condition in the end (Cottrill, 2011).
What are the symptoms of social anxiety disorder?
The symptoms of social anxiety disorders vary from group to group. The common grouping is adults and teenagers in one group and children in the other groups.
Social anxiety disorder symptoms in children
- Disturbed about being embarrassed before peers but not embarrassed before adults
- Freezing and crying or dwindling in social situations.
- They fear engaging in group activities like singing or speaking before class members
- Unreasonable disproval that they are not afraid
Symptoms of social anxiety disorder in adults and teenagers
- They worry about being anxious
- Refusal to engage in daily activities
- Developing nervousness or dread when in social situations
- Development of unreasonable xenophobia with fear of humiliation or embarrassment
- Accepting that the fears they have are too much and unreasonable
- Confusion, sweating, muscle tension and stomach upsets among others
What are the effects of social anxiety disorders?
Myers, D. L. (2009) argues that ssocial anxiety disorder has immense effects on its victims. The effects of social phobia makes the victims avoid all the activities around social places. Thus, it cripples their performance in daily activities including work or school activities, apart from affecting the way of thinking of the victims (Butler, 2008). The effects are cyclic as one effect lead to another effect though not all sufferers of social phobia have all this effects. Other effects of social phobia include: the development of relationship problems. This group of people may fear to socialize with other people as a result they remain single because they cannot date strangers or even go out to social places to meet their dates. They may also have very few friends because they fear inter acting and are very uncomfortable to interact with friends who are likely to criticize them (Cottrill, 2011). Moreover, they may develop depression.
These people choose to isolate themselves from the society thus they stay in solitude which is a good environment for depression, sadness and self pity. This leads to another effect of drug abuse. Once this people are depressed, they opt to about drugs as a way of dealing with the depression and seeking amusement. Thus, they end up as alcoholics and drug abusers. They also have poor performance in the activity that they engage in. these people fear attention from groups or other individuals. Thus, when engaged in group activities like in schools, they will choose to keep quiet to avoid attention or fail to participate even if they have the ability. This leads to low grades at school. It is even worse for those who are working. They are aware that when they work diligently, they will be promoted and promotion means meeting more people (Myers, 2009). Thus, they intentionally opt to underperform work for fewer hours in order to avoid attention. Thus, they end up having poor working profiles. If the condition is not treated in good time, it might result to psychological problems.
What is the treatment to social anxiety disorders?
Many people suffering from this condition don’t seek for treatment because they feel they can handle the situation or the condition is not very serious for treatment. This even makes their condition even worse. Thus, it is important to seek professional treatment for the condition. There is treatment to this disorder, which may be both medicinal and psychological or one depending on how long an individual has been suffering. The medicinal treatment involves antidepressants that help in reducing the anxiety and depression. Medicinal treatment is effective when combined with psychological or psychiatric advice in treatment of the condition especially when it has been there for a long period. Short term sufferers of social anxiety disorder only need professional advice on how to stay positive.
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Butler (2008) contends that the common psychological therapies used to treat this condition include; social skill training, which reduces anxiety and equips one with relevant skills to use in social situations. Exposure therapy is where a professional advisor helps one to carry out some of the activities in public. This eliminates the fear of performing in public situations for example, eating or talking in public. Cognitive restructuring which helps one to identify and improve their way of thinking and handling issues in social situations. There are also symptom management skills which help the victims to control various anxieties. The cognitive behavioral therapy is another treatment offered where sufferers are given the chance to identify the anxieties and explain them. It is always hard in the first place but very therapeutic. Most of these therapies are natural thus they don’t have side effects on the patients (Butler, 2008).
Social anxiety disorder affects one out of every ten people in America. Thus, ten percent of Americans suffer from this disorder. There are medicines and cognitive-behavioral therapy that do not have side effects. Its effects are devastating to the American economy and citizens. It may also cost live of this individuals because sometimes excessive depression may lead to suicide. It is not the wish of these individuals to be in this condition. Therefore, parents, friends, relatives and relatives should try and make this people comfortable for the sake of their own lives and those suffering from this condition, it its very normal because every human being at one point in life is xenophobic and has fear for something. Fear is what makes us human. Thus, stay positive; perform to the best of your ability, achieve and lead a successful life. Last but not least, remember to seek professional advice the moment you realize that you have any of the symptoms.
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