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Social anxiety disorder
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Say it’s your first day at a new job. Maybe you’re nervous or jittery. You want to make a good impression.
Those feelings are pretty normal, and may actually help you be more alert and careful.
But after a few weeks, once you’re used to the job, and you know your coworkers, that nervousness usually diminishes, right?
Well, for some people that initial anxiety is really high, and stays really high over time.
For those people, the fear of being judged negatively by new people might be so daunting that it affects their ability to do their job well.
In fact, the idea of having to be somewhere where they may be scrutinized by others might make them not want the job or avoid looking for work in the first place.
This describes social anxiety disorder.
It’s unclear what causes social anxiety disorder, but it’s thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors; first degree relatives of people with anxiety disorders have between two and six times the risk of having some form of social anxiety, and people who have experienced neglect or abuse are also more likely to develop social anxiety.
The DSM-5 defines social anxiety disorder as the fear of acting in a certain way that could be negatively evaluated by others.
Social anxiety disorder causes intense distress that significantly interferes with someone’s normal routine, occupational or academic functioning, or with their social activities and relationships.
What’s more is that this fear or anxiety is persistent, lasting for 6 or more months.
The main cause for distress in individuals with social anxiety disorder is the fear that their behavior will be judged negatively by others.
For example, one person might get really anxious while making small talk with acquaintances, or meeting new people.
Another person might get performance anxiety, and not feel able to give a presentation, or give a toast at a friend’s wedding.
With the exception of some cases in which the individual is below a certain age or intellectual level, social anxiety disorder is usually considered an ego-dystonic condition, meaning people who have the disorder usually understand that their anxiety is unwarranted.
Unfortunately, that awareness sometimes just causes even more anxiety, because they’ll fear others will be able to tell how anxious they are, and that they’ll judge them for it.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition characterized by intense fear in one or more social situations causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some parts of daily life. Common symptoms of SAD include fear of being scrutinized or judged by others, fear of embarrassment, and avoidance of social situations. Treatment for SAD may include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.
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