What is social phobia? Social phobia is a mental health disorder that fifteen million Americans live with every day. This condition causes fear, anxiety, panic, and other negative emotions during or even at the thought of certain social occasions and activities. There are many different ways that this mental disorder can affect your life. You may be afraid to go out in public because of an irrational belief that everyone is staring at you or watching your every move. Social phobia can also cause you to be fearful of speaking to others on the phone, or of speaking in a public or social setting.
Individuals with social phobia may try to use alcohol, marijuana, or other substances in an attempt to get rid of the fear and other emotions, but these symptoms will not go away without proper treatment and therapy. Substance abuse only makes things worse and can aggravate the social phobia, making an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment more difficult. This condition makes social places and events a dreaded nightmare, and can create incredible stress and anxiety when social interaction is required. Social phobia is frequently misdiagnosed, and even medical professionals do not always understand this condition. The wrong diagnosis is often depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, manic depression, or panic attacks.
Social phobia can have a devastating effect on daily life and normal activities, making it impossible for the individual to leave home or interact with anyone if the condition is severe. Those who suffer from this illness may feel judged or watched, and normally feel insecure or inadequate in social settings. An overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress is the result of even considering a social event or interaction. While many mental disorders have symptoms which may appear and then go away social phobia has symptoms that will not lessen or disappear until it is treated.
Substance abuse will cause social phobia to worsen, and if a dual diagnosis is given then treatment must work on both factors to succeed. The symptoms of this condition, and the social setting or situation that causes the anxiety and other negative emotions, can be different for each individual. This means treatment must be customized to each individual, so that the best possible results are achieved. Treatment for social phobia can include numerous methods, but the one that has been shown to be the most effective is cognitive behavioral therapy. Short term therapy can be just as effective, and will give faster results than years spent in counseling.