A social phobia is the permanent fear of meeting and interacting with other people and especially the fear of negative evaluation by others. With social phobia, as with any other phobia, the sufferer feels a logically incomprehensible (irrational) fear. In social phobia, as the name suggests, this fear is related to social situations.
As with other phobias, women are significantly more often affected by social phobia than men. The first symptoms often appear in childhood. The problem is that a large number of patients do not go to the doctor until their symptoms have worsened to such an extent that, for example, massive problems arise in professional life. The probability of developing symptoms of social phobia in the course of life is about 15-20%. However, since the severity of the individual symptoms varies greatly, we speak of about 3-5% of the population suffering from a social phobia, which should be treated.
The diagnosis should be made by a psychologist, a psychiatrist or by a therapist experienced in the subject.
A person suffering from social phobia is tormented above all by the fear that he might attract attention when interacting with other people. He or she is afraid of blushing, sweating or otherwise attracting negative attention. Out of this fear he begins to avoid certain situations that are connected to this fear.
Typical avoidance situations are: Here there are big differences how much the individual is disturbed by the illness. Some patients experience only a few situations as difficult or threatening, but others experience this type of phobia as almost all-encompassing (generalized) and thus avoid a very large number of social situations. In severe cases, these social situations can lead to conditions that are very similar to a panic attack (see also Panic disorder).
Possible problems resulting from such a disorder can be very threatening. It is not uncommon for an additional (secondary) addictive disorder to occur, as the permanent anxiety symptoms are often the only way to cope with the situation.
- To establish contact with other, foreign people
- To speak in front of a crowd
- Examination situations
- Argue with a superior or an authority
- To communicate your own opinion and to stand by it
- Getting to know a sexual partner etc.