Social Anxiety Disorder – more than just being shy

Nanette – Hannah Gadsby
25 Jun 2018
Show all

Social Anxiety Disorder – more than just being shy

This first post will describe Social Anxiety Disorder, and the following one will look at treatment options.

Social Anxiety Disorder is a significant anxiety disorder, which results in considerable disruption to an individual’s life. It generally starts in childhood and is often not recognized and is passed off as shyness. However, it is not only shyness. Typical features in adults include overthinking future social events and the possible things that could wrong. Once individuals have been in a social situation, they ruminate over everything that went ‘wrong’ in their minds during that social event.

Untreated Social Anxiety disorder frequently results in having low self-esteem, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. It also often results in alcoholism or other forms of substance abuse since a substance is often used to ‘take the edge off.’

In psychiatric terms we diagnose Social Anxiety Disorder by following specific criteria, asking questions, and using scales to rate the severity of symptoms. This information is from the Mayo Clinic website

The Diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Physical exam and medical history to help assess whether any medical condition or medication may trigger symptoms of anxiety
  • Discussion of your symptoms, how often they occur, and in what situations they occur
  • Review of a list of situations to see if they make you anxious
  • Self-report questionnaires about symptoms of social anxiety
  • Link to self report questionaire
  • Criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association

DSM-5 criteria for social anxiety disorder include:

  • Persistent, intense fear or anxiety about specific social situations because you believe you may be judged, embarrassed or humiliated
  • Avoidance of anxiety-producing social situations or enduring them with intense fear or anxiety
  • Excessive anxiety that’s out of proportion to the situation
  • Anxiety or distress that interferes with your daily living
  • Fear or anxiety that is not better explained by a medical condition, medication or substance abuse

Some Useful Links

The National Social Anxiety Disorder (an excellent resource)

Social Anxiety Disorder – overview

Your Brain Processes  in Social Anxiety

5 Ted Talks about Social Anxiety Disorder / Anxiety