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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Social Anxiety Disorder

The principal difficulty of patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder is that they experience extensive fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which they think they will be critically observed and silently appraised by others. Examples include social interactions (e.g., having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people), being observed while eating or drinking and performing in front of others (e.g., giving a speech). In children, the anxiety must occur in peer settings and not just during interactions with adults and may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, clinging, shrinking, or failing to speak.

The diagnosis of social anxiety disorder is considered when the clinical picture of the patient presents the following characteristics:

  1. The individual fears that he or she will act in an embarrassing way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated by others.
  2. The social situations almost always provoke fear or anxiety.
  3. The social situations are avoided or endured with intense fear or anxiety.
  4. The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social situation and to the sociocultural context.
  5. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting for 6 months or more.
  6. The fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Important notice: You should not reach the decision that you or the person you have in mind, when reading the above clinical description, suffers from social anxiety disorder. We encourage you to seek professional advice, if you feel that you or the persons you care about meet one or more of the clinical criteria.

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