Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is also referred to as a social phobia.  The main features of the disorder are overwhelming anxiety and extreme self-consciousness in everyday social situations.  Individuals with SAD have a chronic and intense fear of judgment or humiliation by others.  These fears may cause the sufferer to develop avoidance behaviors and may interfere with functioning at school or work.  The SAD or social phobia can be specific (e.g. eating in front of others), or generalized.  When the symptoms are generalized, the individual experiences symptoms almost anytime they are with others.  Not surprisingly, sufferers of SAD have difficulty establishing relationships.
Individuals with SAD know that their thoughts and feelings are irrational.  Sometimes, even when they manage to confront fear, physical symptoms such as blushing, profuse sweating, gastrointestinal upset and trembling occur.  Not surprisingly, these physical problems just worsen the anxiety.
SAD affects over five million adult American, and women and men are equally likely to develop the disorder.  Thee is some evidence that genetics are involved.  SAD can also occur with other disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder or depression.  A tendency to “self-medicate” with drugs or alcohol may develop in an attempt to combat the sufferer’s anxiety.
Treatment of SAD may involve psychiatric medications or carefully targeted behavioral psychotherapy.  Medications most commonly prescribed  may include SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), tricyclics antidepressants and beta-blockers.  Meditation, yoga and other wellness interventions may help to learn self-soothing exercises which may decrease social anxiety.

More information about social anxiety disorder may be obtained by contacting any of the resources listed below.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America
8730 Georgia Ave., Suite 600
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: 240-485-1001
Fax: 240-485-1035
URL: http://www.adaa.org

Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT)
305 7th Avenue, 16th floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-647-1890
URL: http://www.aabt.org

Freedom from Fear
308 Seaview Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305
Phone: 718-351-1717
URL: http://www.freedomfromfear.com

Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Rm. 12-105 Parklawn Building
Rockville, MD 20857
Phone: 301-443-8956
Fax: 301-443-9050
URL: http://www.samhsa.gov/

National Institute of Mental Health
Office of Communications
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Phone: 301-443-4513
Fax: 301-443-4279
Toll Free: 1-866-615-NIMH (6464)
TTY: 301-443-8431

Email: nimhinfo@nih.gov
URL: http://www.nimh.nih.gov