Symptoms

Cognitive Aspects
In cognitive models of social anxiety, social phobic's experience dread over how they will be presented to others. They may be overly self-conscious, pay high self-attention after the activity, or have high performance standards for themselves. According to the social psychology theory of self-presentation, a sufferer attempts to create a well-mannered impression on others but believes he or she is unable to do so. Many times, prior to the potentially anxiety-provoking social situation, sufferers may deliberate over what could go wrong and how to deal with each unexpected case. After the event, they may have the perception they performed unsatisfactorily. Consequently, they will review anything that may have possibly been abnormal or embarrassing. These thoughts do not just terminate soon after the encounter, but may extend for weeks or longer. Those with social phobia tend to interpret neutral or ambiguous conversations with a negative outlook and although still inconclusive, some studies suggest that socially anxious individuals remember more negative memories than those less distressed. An example of an instance may be that of an employee presenting to his co-workers. During the presentation, the person may stutter a word upon which he or she may worry that other people significantly noticed and think that he or she is a terrible presenter. This cognitive thought propels further anxiety which may lead to further stuttering, sweating and a possible panic attack.

Behavioral Aspects
Social Anxiety Disorder is a persistent fear of one or more situations in which the person is exposed to possible scrutiny by others and fears that he or she may do something or act in a way that will be humiliating or embarrassing. It exceeds normal "shyness" as it leads to excessive social avoidance and substantial social or occupational impairment. Feared activities may include most any type of social interaction, especially small groups, dating, parties, talking to strangers, restaurants, etc. Physical symptoms include "mind going blank", fast heartbeat, blushing, stomach ache. Cognitive distortions are a hallmark, and learned about in CBT. Thoughts are often self-defeating and inaccurate. According to renowned psychologist B.F. Skinner, phobias are controlled by escape and avoidance behaviors. For instance, a student may leave the room when talking in front of the class (escape) and refrain from doing verbal presentations because of the previously encountered anxiety attack (avoid). Minor avoidance behaviors are exposed when a person avoids eye contact and crosses arms to avoid recognizable shaking. A fight-or-flight response is then triggered in such events. Preventing these automatic responses is at the core of treatment for social phobia.

Physiological Aspects
Physiological effects, similar to those in other anxiety disorders, are present in social phobic's Faced with an uncomfortable situation, children with social anxiety may display tantrums, crying, clinging to parents, and shutting themselves out. Adults may weep, as well as experience excessive sweating, nausea, shaking, and palpitations as a result of the fight-or-flight response. Blushing is commonly exhibited by individuals suffering from social phobia. These visible symptoms further reinforce the anxiety in the presence of others. A 2006 study found that the area of the brain called the amygdala, part of the limbic system, is hyperactive when patients are shown threatening faces or confronted with frightening situations. They found that patients with more severe social phobia showed a correlation with the increased response in the amygdala.

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