Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, is a condition where the person feels an intense shyness or fear. Persons affected with this disorder are constantly anxious and worried about what others might think of them or how they might be judged by others These constant thoughts of how other people view them may result in affecting one’s daily work and activities.
For all mental disorders, the basic assessments include analyzing the person’s medical history to look for any physical cause for the anxiety. Sometimes, social anxiety may occur along with a few other health disorders. Apart from the medical history, a full-body examination is done to identify any other physical causes that could have paved the way for anxiety. Also, the healthcare provider should provide an environment in which the patient feels comfortable describing the symptoms and their duration.
Sometimes, a list of situations is provided as questionnaire to ensure that the type and severity of the symptoms is captured correctly. These criteria are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM-5), recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as the standardized criteria for the diagnosis of mental conditions.
The mental healthcare provider, at the time of diagnosis, must search for the major symptoms to conclude whether the person is suffering from social anxiety or any other mental health condition. The following queries may be posed over a period of time:
In the case of young children, a child who suffers from anxiety may present with frequent crying, clinging, or refusing to speak with strangers.
Some people may have SA that is related to performance. They feel intense shyness or fear while performing or speaking in public or in any type of gathering.
The next step in the diagnosis is based on the physical behavior of the patient. The following are some of the symptoms about which the patient may be asked:
Every condition or disorder has a mild or extreme behavioral sign to represent it. The behaviors that indicate social anxiety include:
Patients who suffer from extreme social anxiety are likely to be school or college dropouts. They often fail to sustain durable relationships or marriage. People with social anxiety often go through divorces.
They also have issues in keeping their jobs or, conversely, may be unduly devoted to their work. All these factors may be present in a person with self-confirmation of anxiety symptoms, which shows the huge impact of social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder may change over time. Overly anxious thoughts may emerge or become controlling at a certain point when one is facing a huge amount of stress. People may avoid anxiety-occurring situations to avoid feeling bad. If proper treatment is not provided, the person remains anxious for a longer period.
Self-diagnoses for social anxiety disorder are known to be inaccurate. For a clear diagnosis an assessment is required from a qualified healthcare provider who is well trained in evidence-based treatment or psychiatric diagnosis. Social anxiety might arise along with other disorders like substance abuse, depression, other anxiety disorders like, panic attacks, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorders. Appropriate tests should be ordered to rule out these conditions as well.