What Is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can trigger strong feelings of self-consciousness, judgment, evaluation, and inferiority. In other words, social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.

Social anxiety disorder (formerly termed “social phobia”) is much more common than previously believed. It is estimated that 7-8% of the population suffers from some form of social anxiety. Over one’s lifetime 13-14% of Americans are estimated to experience social anxiety disorder.

Fortunately, Social Anxiety Disorder can be treated very effectively. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication are the two treatments with the most evidence of effectiveness for Social Anxiety.

Recent research on the neurological effects of CBT for Social Anxiety by McMaster University Ph.D. candidate Vladimir Miskovic demonstrates neurological changes correlating with positive response to CBT on EEGs of individuals who tested extremely high for symptoms of social anxiety compared to those who received no psychotherapy. The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science (February 2011).

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