What is Social Phobia?
Social phobia is a very exagerated shyness typified by persistent and strong feelings of anxiety and fear when facing certain social situations, interacting with others, or even when being observed, to such an extent that this feeling greatly interferes in the development of the normal life of those who suffer it.
People with social phobia are well aware of the irrationality of their feelings, but nevertheless feel great aprehension when facing the feared situation and therefore they will do anything to escape it, and will start avoiding all sorts of social situations, in this way inhibiting the personīs functional character.In these feared social situations the social phobic will be constantly worried that other people might think they are anxious, weak, silly or strange.
One of the main characteristics of social phobia is the strong anxiety felt before the feared events take place, known as “anticipated anxiety”.People start worrying and feeling terror before confronting the feared situation, so, once they actually face it, and due to their nervousness, it comes out worse, this leading to an increase in the level of “anticipated anxiety”next time they confront the same situation.A vicious circle is created and which is self generating.
Social phobia is much more widespread than we believe, for it is estimated that about 3 to 13% of the population suffers it in some way(data are not very clear).
Unlike most phobias, it affects men and women equally, is frequently hereditary and normally appears during adolescence or before the age of 25.
We can distinguish between two types of social phobia:
When fear appears in most social relations or whenever a certain interaction with others is required.
When anxiety only appears in certain situations, such as speaking in public, or fearing being observed when eating.
Some of the main situations feared by those who suffer from social phobia are:
-Speaking in public.
-Eating and drinking in public.
-Being observed and feeling judged or criticized.
-Writing or signing in public.
-To manage in commercial and administrative activities.
-Looking at others in the eyes.
-Starting a conversation.
-Being introduced to others.
-Giving or defending your opinion.
-Meeting strangers or people of the opposite sex.
-Being in enclosed areas amongst other people.
-Speaking in front of a small group of people.
-Speaking in front of people with authority.
-Paying or receiving compliments.
-Failing to see the point.
-Being the centre of attention.