15 things about social phobia psychologists wish you knew
Anxiety is common. It is one of the most common mental disorders, affecting approximately one in four Australians at some stage of their life.
According to Beyond Blue, anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life, with women more likely than men to develop anxiety.
If that’s not jarring enough, it’s still a highly under-recognised condition – although so many suffer, most people suffer in silence. Social phobias, also known as social anxiety disorder (SAD), is one common type of anxiety disorder that involves a significant amount of fear in one or more social situations. “These fears can be triggered by real or perceived criticism by others and can impact a person at school, work, a social gathering, crowded place like restaurants, bars or sporting events, and even places like doctor’s offices or shops,” explains psychologist Dr Jesse Matthews.
Social phobia affects people of all ages
Social phobia doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, race, culture or any other variable. “The research shows that SAD tends to be more prevalent in those who value others’ opinions, particularly as they relate to opportunities for friendship, relationships or employment,” says Dr Matthews. Though most people have experienced some degree of being hyper-aroused in social situations, 10 per cent of the Australian population will experience social phobia in their lifetime, with 4.7 per cent experiencing it in a 12-month period. According to Beyond Blue, more women than men appear to develop the disorder (with a ratio of about 3:2).
Social phobia comes with physical symptoms
Symptoms of social phobia can include feeling hot and sweaty, breathing heavily, experiencing headaches or even nausea, but it can also come with more serious side effects such as panic attacks, tremors, heart palpitations, light-headedness and an upset stomach. “Individuals may also have negative thoughts about themselves, difficulty focusing on a task (such as a speech or presentation) or feeling as though everyone is watching or judging them,” says Dr Matthews.
Anxiety triggers aren’t always easy to identify, so here are a few things in your home that could trigger anxiety.