Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder goes far beyond just shyness. Millions of individuals throughout the world suffer from this disabling disorder every day, in the form of either a specific social anxiety or a more generalized social anxiety. In the US, recent epidemiological studies have deemed social anxiety disorder as the third largest psychological disorder in the country, affecting about 15 million American adults. The lifetime prevalence rate for developing social anxiety disorder is 13-14%, with men and women equally as likely to develop the disorder. Although the age of onset is typically around early adolescence, about one third of individuals with social anxiety disorder endorse having symptoms for 10 or more years before they seek help. Social anxiety disorder often occurs along side other anxiety disorders and/or chronic depression.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD), sometimes referred to as "social phobia”, is characterized by an intense fear, discomfort, or anxiety in one or more social or performance-based situations. This can often lead to avoidance of situations in which an individual feels that they may be scrutinized by others. These fears can be activated by actual or perceived criticism from others and can significantly diminish an individual’s ability to function in one or more areas of daily life.
Individuals who experience and suffer from social anxiety may feel very anxious about being around other people and experience difficulty initiating, responding to, and maintaining interaction with others. Other symptoms can include
Intense self-consciousness in front of others
Feeling embarrassed around other people
Fear that others will judge them
Intense worry about an upcoming occasion where other people will be present
Avoidance of places where there are other people
Difficulty making or keeping friends and relationships
Blushing, stammering, sweating, or trembling when others are present
Feeling nauseous or “sick to your stomach” in social situations
Although individuals recognize that the fear is unwarranted and excessive, social anxiety disorder can cause individuals to feel helpless against their anxiety. In addition to impeding friendships, romantic relationships, and social functioning, the anxiety can significantly hinder daily routines, including occupational and school performance.
Social anxiety can be restricted to one situation (such as interacting with people, eating or drinking in public, or standing in front of the class) or may be broad (as with generalized social anxiety), causing the individual to experience anxiety around nearly everyone. The goal of treatment is to help individuals manage and reduce their anxiety in these situations. We integrate CBT with graded exposure techniques that are not generic but specifically tailored to improving your situation. We blend this with cognitive strategies such as guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and assertiveness training. In addition, we also use techniques derived from meditative practices to help individuals cope with triggering situations and thoughts.