Social phobia

Alternative Names

Phobia – social; Social anxiety disorder

Definition of Social phobia

Social phobia is a persistent and irrational fear of situations that may involve scrutiny or judgment by others, such as parties and other social events.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

People with social phobias fear and avoid situations in which they may be subject to the scrutiny of others. It may begin in adolescence and may be associated with overprotective parents or limited social opportunities. Males and females are affected equally with this disorder.

Symptoms

People with social phobia become overwhelmingly anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. They have an intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and of doing things that will embarrass them. They can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will look at your history of phobia, and will get a description of the behavior from you, your family, and friends.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to help you function effectively. The success of the treatment usually depends on the severity of the phobia.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome is generally good with treatment, and antidepressant medications have been shown to be very effective.

Review

Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/14/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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