Social Anxiety (Social Phobia)

An irrational fear of social or performance situations, or irrational fear of scrutiny or harsh judgement by others. The base of the fear is a worry about humiliating or embarassing situations.

Recent studies show social anxiety to be the third most common mental disorder in the United States (8% of the general population suffers from some form of it).


  • intense fear of social or performance situations
  • exposure to the feared social situation almost invariable provokes an anxiety or panic attack
  • patient recognizes that the fear is baseless and irrational
  • triggering situations are avoided entirely or endured with intense distress
  • avoidance and nervous anticipation of triggering events has a strong impact on the social, occupational or other everyday aspects of life
  • duration of fear for at least six months
  • fear or avoidance is NOT triggered by external factors such as alcohol or other substance abuse, and is not a condition of another mental disorder
Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is made by a medical professional based upon the presence of the symptoms listed above and their impact upon the patients quality of life.

Treatment options include cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and exposure therapy. Pharmaceutical options have lately begun to include prescription antidepressants such as Paxil (paroxetine HCI).


The outlook for persons with social phobia is good when sufferers follow treatment options that involve cognitive-behavioral therapy (as much as a 90% success rate).