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Social Anxiety Disorder

Diagnosing Social Anxiety Disorder

woman with social anxiety disorder

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) explains that, “anxiety refers to anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior.” Anxiety disorders involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health condition. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), social anxiety disorder “is characterized by persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” An individual with SAD will avoid social situations due to a fear of being negatively evaluated (e.g., embarrassed or judged) by other people. Individuals with social anxiety disorder will experience a stronger and more intense sense of anxiety surrounding uncomfortable social situations than that of an individual without SAD.

Signs and Symptoms

Every individual is unique and will have his or her own set of challenges in regards to social anxiety. There are certain common signs and symptoms an individual struggling with SAD could exhibit. These include the following examples, provided by Healthline:

  • Muscle tension
  • Agitation 
  • Excessive worry and or fear
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Poor eye contact with others
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Refusing to attend school and or social engagements
  • Anger

In addition to the above, an individual with social anxiety disorder may have frequent self-deprecating thoughts and thoughts of inadequacy. In order to secure the most effective treatment, it is essential to obtain a proper diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional.  

Clinical Diagnostic Process

According to the Mayo Clinic, a social anxiety disorder diagnosis will be determined after conducting a thorough physical exam, a psychiatric evaluation, and will be informed by the diagnostic criteria provided in the DSM-5. It is also common for an evaluating clinician to request an individual to complete self-report questionnaires regarding one’s symptoms of social anxiety, as well as review a list of situations to see if they elicit anxiety. The diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder, according to the DSM-5, provided by the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Persistent, intense fear or anxiety about specific social situations because you believe you may be judged, embarrassed or humiliated
  • Avoidance of anxiety-producing social situations or enduring them with intense fear or anxiety
  • Excessive anxiety that’s out of proportion to the situation
  • Anxiety or distress that interferes with your daily living
  • Fear or anxiety that is not better explained by a medical condition, medication or substance abuse

The exact scientific cause for developing social anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research has shown that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors.  

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Social Anxiety Treatment Options In Los Angeles

girl with social anxiety disorder

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. Anxiety disorders, however, involve excessive feelings of nervousness, anxiousness, fear and anxiety. Anxiety disorders are highly common. There are currently five different types of anxiety disorders. They include the following: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). Social anxiety disorder (SAD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health condition. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) explains that social anxiety disorder is “characterized by persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” An individual with social anxiety disorder will experience a stronger and more intense sense of anxiety surrounding uncomfortable social situations than someone without SAD. However, with proper treatment, an individual can learn to effectively manage the symptoms of his or her social anxiety disorder. 

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms that can manifest with social anxiety disorder can be debilitating and interfere with one’s ability to function optimally in his or her daily life. Every individual is unique and will have his or her own set of challenges with regards to social anxiety. Common examples of signs and symptoms that an individual with SAD may exhibit could include any combination of the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Excessive worry and/ or fear
  • Muscle tension
  • Blushing 
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Nausea 
  • Agitation 
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Poor eye contact with others
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

In addition to the above, people with social anxiety disorder may have frequent self-deprecating thoughts and/ or constant thoughts of inadequacy. It is important to note that social anxiety disorder symptoms can change over time. 

Treatment In LA

In order to obtain the most effective treatment, it is imperative for an individual to be thoroughly evaluated and obtain an accurate diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional. There are many treatment options available in Los Angeles, California for an individual diagnosed with SAD. Every person is different and will require a customized treatment plan, as each will respond distinctly to various treatment options.

There are a number of factors that go into creating a treatment plan for an individual with social anxiety disorder. It is not uncommon for medication to be incorporated into one’s treatment plan in conjunction with psychotherapy. There are several different types of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) that are often prescribed for individuals with SAD. Some of the common SSRIs that are often prescribed for social anxiety disorder include Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate), Zoloft (sertraline), and Prozac (fluoxetine). Some the therapeutic modalities that are regularly utilized by mental health clinicians in Southern California, during treatment for social anxiety disorder, include talk therapy, expressive arts therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and/ or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

girl with social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health condition. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) explains that social anxiety disorder is “characterized by persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.” The exact cause for developing an anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors. 

Signs and Symptoms

Every individual is unique and will have his or her own set of challenges with regards to social anxiety. Anxiety is a normal and healthy reaction to stress.

While fleeting anxiety is unavoidable for the vast majority of humans, an individual with social anxiety disorder will experience symptoms that interfere with his or her ability to function in his or her daily life. Common examples of signs and symptoms that an individual with SAD may exhibit could include any combination of the following, as provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Muscle tension
  • Agitation 
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Excessive worry and or fear
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Poor eye contact with others
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Blushing 
  • Sadness
  • Crying
  • Nausea 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

In addition to the above, people with social anxiety disorder may have frequent self-deprecating thoughts and/ or constant thoughts of inadequacy. It is important to note that social anxiety disorder symptoms can change over time. 

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnosis process for social anxiety disorder typically includes several components such as a physical exam, reviewing one’s symptoms, completing a self-report questionnaire, and meeting the diagnostic criteria provided in the DSM-5. The diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5 for social anxiety disorder include:

  • Persistent, intense fear or anxiety about specific social situations due to fear of possibly being judged, embarrassed or humiliated
  • Avoidance of anxiety-producing social situations or enduring them with intense fear or anxiety
  • Excessive anxiety that is out of proportion to the situation
  • Anxiety or distress that interferes with one’s daily living
  • Fear or anxiety that is not better explained by a medical condition, medication or substance abuse

In order to ensure proper treatment, it is imperative to be thoroughly evaluated and diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional.

Treatment

There are many treatment options for SAD. Every person is different and will require a customized treatment plan, as each will respond distinctly to various treatment options. Treatment plans for social anxiety disorder will typically consist of a variety of therapeutic approaches, such as talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), expressive arts therapy and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). It is not uncommon for medication to be incorporated in one’s treatment plan in conjunction with psychotherapy. There are several different types of SSRIs that are often prescribed for individuals with SAD. SSRIs are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Some of the common SSRIs that are often prescribed for social anxiety disorder include Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate), Zoloft (sertraline), and Prozac (fluoxetine). If left untreated, social anxiety disorder can lead to a plethora of short and long-term effects.  

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health.  As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.