Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by fear of embarrassment associated with performance or exposure to evaluation by others. While we all feel a degree of nervousness in certain social situations, for those with social anxiety disorder, the anxiety is often so severe that it leads to avoidance of these situations altogether. A common concern among people with social anxiety disorder is that they will say or do something that will cause others to view them as weak, anxious, or crazy. This concern is typically out of proportion to the situation.
Children and adolescents with social anxiety may avoid recess or gym, using the school restroom, or eating in the cafeteria. They may have difficulty raising a hand in class, giving a presentation, or asking a question that would bring unwanted attention.
Recognizing Social Anxiety
With effective treatment, the prognosis for those with social anxiety is very good. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on exposure therapy is considered the treatment of choice for social anxiety. The early stages of therapy involve psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, skill development, and relaxation training. These new skills are then implemented in situations that cause anxiety (in vivo exposures). This is accomplished gradually beginning with the least anxiety provoking situations. Participation in a social anxiety-specific CBT group is often a critical component of treatment. Learn more about social anxiety groups at Austin Anxiety and Behavioral Health Services.