The Concept of Social Anxiety Disorder


Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also referred to as social phobia, is a condition under which a person suffers from anxiety in different social contexts. The underlying component of SAD is the fear of being judged by others and not being approved by them. Although the disorder is widely spread and affects many people, there are productive ways of coping with it. Thus, SAD is a common condition characterized by fear of social activities that can be addressed through self-help strategies and therapy.

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SAD is caused by the inability to keep calm in various social situations. There may be different triggers of social phobias, such as speaking in public, meeting new people, or performing on stage. Researchers note that the shame experienced by individuals suffering from SAD may be internal or external (Hedman et al. e61713). Sometimes, anxiety may develop from the fear of being teased or even from the concern of becoming the center of scrutiny. Thus, the major cause of SAD is the fear of public attention, both negative or positive. Reasons for anxiety may be different, depending on patients’ phobias and concerns.

Signs and Symptoms

Three types of signs are involved in SAD: emotional, physical, and behavioral. Symptoms can vary depending on the patient’s age (Zakri 678). Emotional signs include anxiety concerning upcoming events, the fear of self-humiliation and embarrassment, extreme self-consciousness, and nervousness. What concerns physical signs, including stomach upsets, dizziness, blushing, sweating, shaking, dry mouth, and hot flashes (Zakri 678). Behavioral symptoms are avoiding social gatherings, drinking before attending social events, and keeping silent even when one has to deliver a speech. Symptoms of SAD are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders, and they have not changed significantly over the past fifteen years (Spence and Rapee 50). Therefore, there are three major types of SAD signs (emotional, physical, and behavioral). Symptoms most typically involve nervousness and the fear of being embarrassed.


The management of SAD depends on the severity of the case and the patient’s preferences. Self-help is considered an effective method in many cases, but it usually concerns mild cases (Zakri 680). Self-help can be delivered either in a guided or unguided manner. The former can be applied with the help of books and web resources, whereas the latter can be conducted in self-help groups (Zakri 680). In case self-help is not enough, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is applied (Zakri 680). This approach is less harmful than medication-based treatment that is used in the most severe cases. Thus, SAD management incorporates a variety of methods, the choice of which depends on the seriousness of the disorder.

Self-Help Tips

One of the most popular and accessible self-help options is Internet-delivered guidance. Such measures may include learning the following issues:

  • control of breathing;
  • efforts to be more social;
  • general data on SAD;
  • improved motivation;
  • applied relaxation techniques;
  • identifying and challenging negative thoughts;
  • the establishment of a personal “individual model of anxiety”;
  • worry confrontation;
  • the role of healthy lifestyle conduct in SAD;
  • exercises aimed to reduce self-focused attention;
  • exercises on “detached mindfulness” (Berger et al. 211).


Social anxiety disorder is one of the most common phobias. The most common reason for SAD is the fear of being embarrassed or not accepted by society. Specialists recommend such kinds of coping with this condition as self-help, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medication treatment. Self-help, either guided or unguided, is a rather popular approach that is productive in mild cases. However, when the disorder is severe, physicians employ more advanced methods to help their patients.

Works Cited

Berger, Thomas, et al. “Internet-Based Guided Self-Help for Several Anxiety Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing a Tailored With a Standardized Disorder-Specific Approach.” Psychotherapy, vol. 51, no. 2, 2014, pp. 207-219.

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Hedman, Erik., et al. “Shame and Guilt in Social Anxiety Disorder: Effects of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Association with Social Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms.” PLOS ONE, vol. 8, no. 4, 2013, pp. e61713.

Spence, Susan H., and Ronald M. Rapee. “The Etiology of Social Anxiety Disorder: An Evidence-Based Model.” Behaviour Research and Therapy, vol. 86, 2016, pp. 50-67.

Zakri, Hani. “Social Anxiety Disorder.” InnovAit, vol. 8, no. 11, 2015, pp. 677-684.

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