Social Phobia

Social Phobia

Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is a mental health disorder characterized by a fear of being watched, judged, or embarrassed by others. Social phobia is also known as social anxiety disorder.

Anyone can actually experience fear or anxiety when interacting with other people. However, in people with social phobia , this fear is experienced excessively and persists. As a result, this condition affects relationships with other people, productivity at work, and achievement at school.

Causes of Social Phobia

Social phobia or social anxiety disorder can be triggered by new situations or things that have never been done before, for example giving speeches or giving presentations in public. Although the exact cause is unknown, this condition is thought to be related to the following factors:

  • Past events
    Social phobia may arise because sufferers have experienced embarrassing or unpleasant events that were witnessed by other people.
  • Heredity or parenting
    Social phobia tends to be inherited from parents. However, it is not certain whether this condition is triggered by genetic factors or the result of wrong parenting, such as being too restrictive. Another possibility is that children imitate the attitude of their parents who often feel anxious when dealing with other people.
  • Brain structure
    Fear is strongly influenced by a part of the brain called the amygdala . An overactive amygdala will make a person experience a stronger fear. This condition can increase the risk of excessive anxiety when interacting with other people.

In addition to the factors above, having certain body conditions or illnesses, such as scars from burns or shaking hands (tremors) due to Parkinson's disease, can increase a person's risk of developing social phobia.

Symptoms of Social Phobia

Symptoms of social anxiety disorder or social phobia may be particularly apparent in the following situations:

  • Dating
  • Make eye contact with other people
  • Interact with strangers
  • Eat in front of others
  • Work or school
  • Entered a room full of people
  • Attend parties or gatherings

Therefore, sufferers will usually avoid a number of situations above.

The fear felt by people with social phobia does not only last for a moment, but is permanent, and will cause physical symptoms in the form of:

  • Blushing face
  • Speak too slowly
  • Stiff posture
  • Muscles get tense
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nauseous
  • Dizzy
  • Heart beat
  • Hard to breathe

When does h go to the doctor

The fear of being judged negatively or of being judged by others is actually normal for everyone. A person is also considered normal if he occasionally avoids situations that make him uncomfortable, for example meeting new people.

However, consult your doctor or psychologist if your fear or anxiety is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Lasts more than 6 months
  • Interfere with daily activities
  • Hinders interaction with others
  • Influence work productivity or achievement in school

Diagnosis of Social Phobia

To diagnose social phobia, the doctor will ask questions regarding the following:

  • Symptoms and signs experienced by the patient
  • The time and situation when the complaint arose
  • History of illness or medication
  • Embarrassing past events

After that, the doctor will conduct an examination to find out whether the complaint is causing physical problems, such as palpitations or shortness of breath.

If needed, the doctor can carry out further examinations, such as a heart record test .

Social Phobia Treatment

Social phobia can be treated using two methods, namely psychotherapy and administration of drugs, or a combination of both. Here is the explanation:


One form of psychotherapy to overcome social phobia is cognitive behavioral therapy . This therapy aims to reduce anxiety, by exposing the patient to situations that make him anxious or afraid. Next, a psychologist or doctor will provide a solution to deal with the situation.

Over time, the patient's self-confidence is expected to increase when faced with situations that make him afraid, even without being accompanied.

Cognitive behavioral therapy lasts 12 weeks and can be done alone with a psychiatrist or in groups with other social phobia patients.

The doctor will also provide understanding to the patient's family regarding this disorder. That way, families can provide support to patients to recover quickly.


Antidepressant drugs are the main choice for dealing with social phobia. Types of drugs used include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors ( SSRIs ), such as paroxetine and sertraline
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as venlaxafine

Other types of drugs that can be used are:

  • Anti-anxiety
    medications Medications such as benzodiazepines can reduce anxiety quickly. However, this drug is usually only used in the short term, because it can cause addiction.
  • Other classes of antidepressants
    The doctor will give other classes of antidepressants if the patient does not respond well or experiences severe side effects due to the use of SSRIs or SNRIs.
  • Beta-blocker
    drugs. These drugs aim to treat physical symptoms that arise due to fear or anxiety, namely heart palpitations. The drugs used include propranolol .

It is important to remember that the effectiveness of social phobia treatment is not always immediately apparent. Sometimes, patients need to take medication for years to prevent recurrence. For optimal results, undergo treatment according to the doctor's advice and regularly discuss with the doctor about the development of the disease condition.

Social Phobia Complications

Untreated social phobia can cause sufferers to experience the following conditions:

  • Feelings of inferiority
  • Unable to interact with others
  • Unable to be assertive
  • Very sensitive to criticism

The conditions above can interfere with the achievement and productivity of sufferers, both at school and at work. Even worse, sufferers can experience alcohol addiction, drug abuse, and even attempt suicide .

Social Phobia Prevention

There is no known way to prevent anxiety disorders, including social phobia. However, there are several ways you can do to avoid the severity of symptoms if you have social phobia, namely:

  • Avoiding the use of NAPZA
  • Undergoing relaxation therapies , such as breathing techniques to relieve stress
  • Dare yourself to face situations that trigger anxiety gradually
  • Consult with a psychologist or doctor regarding the treatment method that is right for you
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