Social phobia

  • Alternative Names

    Phobia - social; Social anxiety disorder


    People with social phobia become overwhelmingly anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. They have an intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and of doing things that will embarrass them. They can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.

    Although many people with social phobia realize that their fears about being with people are excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome them on their own.

    Social phobia can be limited to one situation (such as talking to people, eating or drinking, or writing on a blackboard in front of others). Or, it may be so broad (such as in generalized social phobia) that the person experiences anxiety around almost everyone other than family members.

    Physical symptoms that often occur with social phobia include:

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

    Social phobia is different from shyness. Shy people are able to participate in social functions. People with social phobia are constrained by their condition to the point that it affects their ability to function in work and relationships.

    Some of the most common fears of people with social phobia include:

    • Attending parties and other social occasions
    • Eating, drinking, and writing in public
    • Meeting new people
    • Speaking in public
    • Using public restrooms

    Signs and tests

    The health care provider will look at your history of phobia, and will get a description of the behavior from you, your family, and friends.

    Signs include:

    • Elevated blood pressure
    • Rapid heart rate