Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is the third most common mental health issue in the world today, affecting about 7% of the population. Social Anxiety Disorder is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. It involves an extreme fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by others. This disorder causes anxiety and fear in almost all aspects of a person's life.
SAD is often perceived as an extreme form of shyness, which is far from the truth. It’s a chronic disorder that, without treatment, can wreak havoc on the suffering individual. Stigmas associated with mental health issues, and more specifically SAD, are often the primary reason that these type of disorders go untreated.
Social anxiety disorder is more than just being shy. Feelings of shyness or social discomfort are normal, but extreme versions of anxiety which result in physical discomfort are not. Typical daily situations that can cause extreme anxiety include but are not limited to:
- Eating or drinking in front of others
- Talking on the phone
- Interracting with people
- Using a public restroom
SAD can result in extreme anxiety and avoidance that can disrupt your life, cause severe stress, and affect your daily activities. Fearing normal social interactions or situations in daily life because they cause embarrassment, worry, or panic should be a sign that you need to seek help.
Treatment of SAD can be extremely effective and beneficial. In some cases, professional counseling may be all that is needed. In other cases, a combination of counseling and medication is most effective. Unfortunately, many people don't seek treatment because they believe their symptoms are not bad enough, or they believe that they can work things out independently. It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone in this, and getting treatment is positive step in the right direction.