Social anxiety disorder is the intense fear of social situations. People with social anxiety disorder:
Social anxiety may be:
Social anxiety disorder is much more severe than shyness. It can interfere with work, school, or other situations, as well as cause physical symptoms.
Physical Reactions of Anxiety
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The exact cause is unknown. Possible causes include:
Social anxiety disorder is most common in adolescence and early adulthood. It is almost twice as common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chances of social anxiety disorder:
Symptoms may begin in any public situation such as:
Symptoms during these social interactions may include:
You will be asked about your fears and symptoms. A physical exam may be done. You may be referred to a mental health specialist. A psychiatric evaluation may be done.
Treatments may include:
During cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the therapist may:
A support group may also be part of your treatment.
The following medications may be used to help control symptoms:
There are no guidelines to prevent social anxiety disorder because the exact cause is unknown.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Social anxiety disorder. Anxiety and Depression Association of America website. Available at: https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder. Accessed January 31, 2018.
Social anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115906/Social-anxiety-disorder . Updated May 16, 2017. Accessed January 31, 2018.
Social phobia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated May 2014. Accessed January 31, 2018.
Last reviewed November 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 1/26/2016