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Social Phobia : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Feeling nervous about some social situations is actually normal. For example when going on a date for the first time or giving an important presentation in front of many people. However, in people with social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, daily interactions can cause high anxiety, fear, shame and the like because he feels that he is being watched or judged by others.

In those who experience social phobia, fear and anxiety can make someone do various evasions that will disrupt life. Severe stress can affect daily routines, work, education, and other activities.

Social phobia is a chronic mental health condition. However, problems can be overcome by the mechanism of training through psychotherapy techniques, as well as treatment as needed. Self-confidence and the ability to interact with people with social phobia can also be improved.

Social Phobia

Causes of Social Phobia

Like many other mental health conditions, social phobia is believed to occur due to complex interactions between biological factors and environmental factors. Some possible causes are:

  • Inherited nature. Anxiety disorders generally can decrease in the family. However, it is not clearly known, the amount of proportion involving genetic factors and proportions caused by behavior learned from the environment.
  • Brain structure. A structure in the brain called the amygdala is known to play a role in controlling the response to fear. Those with an active amygdala can have a high response to fear. As a result they also experience high anxiety in social situations.
  • Social phobia is a form of behavior that can occur as a result of certain experiences. This can happen to people who have previously experienced a social situation that is uncomfortable or embarrassing.

In addition, there is a link between social phobia and parents who exemplify anxiety behavior in certain social situations. It can also occur in children with the condition of parents who are more strict in controlling their social life or very protective of them.

Symptoms of Social Phobia

Shyness or discomfort in certain situations is not always a sign of social phobia, especially in children. The level of comfort in social situations varies greatly, depending on the personality and previous life experience. There are groups of people who have a more closed tendency and others are more easily open.

Therefore, in contrast to general Twitter, social phobia generally includes fear, anxiety, and avoidance that can affect daily routines, work, education, or other activities. Social phobia usually starts when a person is in the early stages or mid-teens, although it can also occur in childhood or adulthood.

Those who have social phobias also have a tendency to avoid certain social situations. For example, such as interacting with strangers, attending parties or social gatherings, going to work or school, starting a conversation, making eye contact, dating, going into a room when people have sat, eating in front of other people, or using the toilet general.

Social phobia can change over time. This condition can worsen when a person with social phobia faces high pressure or stress.

Some emotional signs and symptoms and behavior on social phobia are:

  • Fear of situations when someone feels judged.
  • Feeling anxious if he risks shaming yourself.
  • Fear of interacting or talking with unknown people.
  • Fear of other people will realize that they feel anxious.
  • Fear of physical signs that can embarrass yourself, such as blushing, sweating, trembling, or having a weak voice.
  • Avoid doing things like talking to other people in shame.
  • Avoid situations when the person is the center of attention.
  • Feeling anxious when having to deal with a feared activity or event.
  • Undergo a social situation by feeling very scared or anxious.
  • Analyze a new social activity to evaluate your own performance and identify mistakes made.

Some physical signs and symptoms of social phobia are:

  • Blushed
  • Fast heart rate
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal pain or nausea
  • Breathless
  • Dizzy
  • Tense muscles

Diagnosis of Social Phobia

Doctors generally will do several things to determine the diagnosis, including:

  • Perform a physical examination to help assess the presence of a medical condition or use of drugs that can trigger signs and symptoms of anxiety.
  • Discuss the signs and symptoms experienced, how often, and in any situation.
  • Discuss a series of situations to see if things make people experience anxiety.
  • Fill out questionnaires related to signs and symptoms of social phobia.
  • Adjust the signs and symptoms experienced with the diagnostic criteria for social phobia.

Social Phobia Therapy

To overcome social phobia, psychiatrists can use 2 methods, psychotherapy and drug administration are described below:


One form of psychotherapy to overcome social phobia is cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy aims to reduce anxiety in patients. Patients will be faced with a situation that makes him anxious or afraid, then a psychologist or psychiatrist will provide a solution to deal with the situation.

Over time, the patient's confidence will be expected to increase to deal with this situation, even without assistance.

Cognitive behavioral therapy lasts for 12 weeks, can be done alone with a psychiatrist or in groups with other social phobia patients.

Psychiatrists will also provide understanding to the families of sufferers regarding this disorder, in order to provide support to sufferers to recover.


Some types of drugs can also be used to treat social phobia. The psychiatrist will give the drug in a light dose first, then gradually increase it. A number of drugs used for social phobia are:

  • Anti-anxiety or anti-anxiety drugs

Drugs such as benzodiazepines can reduce anxiety quickly. However, this drug is usually only used in the short term because it can cause addiction.

  • Antidepressant medication

Besides overcoming depression, antidepressant drugs can also be used to treat social phobia. Unlike anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressant drugs, such as fluoxetine, cannot work quickly and are used for long periods of time.

  • Beta blocking drugs

This drug aims to overcome the physical symptoms that arise due to fear or anxiety, namely the heart palpitations. The drugs used include bisoprolol.

The results of treatment to overcome social phobia cannot always be immediately seen. Sometimes, patients even need to take medication for years to prevent recurrence. In order for the results to be optimal, do the treatment as recommended by the doctor and regularly discuss with the doctor about the development of the disease condition.

Treatment of Social Phobia

Treatment social phobia depends on how far the disorder affects the day-to-day functioning. The two main types of treatment for social phobia are:

  • Psychotherapy is intended to help a person recognize his negative thoughts and develop skills to increase his confidence in social situations. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective psychotherapy for anxiety.
  • There are several types of treatment that doctors can prescribe, including anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, or combination drugs.
  • Often, treatment of social phobia can be a combination of psychotherapy and treatment.

Prevention of Social Phobia

There is no method that can predict things that can make a person experience social phobia. However, there are several steps that can be taken to minimize the impact of symptoms experienced by someone who feels anxious, such as:

  • Get help early. Social phobia, like many other mental health disorders, is easier to deal with if detected early.
  • Write a journal. Documenting your daily personal life can help someone and a professional mental health professional to identify stress factors and how to overcome them.
  • Make a priority list in life. A person can reduce anxiety by managing his time and energy well. Make sure that you also take the time to do the things you like.
  • Avoid the use of substances that are not good. The use of alcohol and illegal drugs can worsen anxiety. If you have experienced addiction, stopping intake can also cause new anxiety.

Complications of Social Phobia

If not treated, social phobia will cause the sufferer:

  • Feel inferior
  • Cannot interact with other people
  • Unable to be assertive
  • Very sensitive to criticism

Such conditions will disrupt the achievements and productivity of sufferers, both at school and workplace. Worse, patients can fall into a state of alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide attempts.



1. Psychology Today (2019). Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia).

2. Mohammadi, A. (2019). Cultural Aspect of Social Anxiety Disorder: A Qualitative Analysis of Anxiety Experiences and Interpretation. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry.

3. National Health Service United Kingdom (2017). Health A-Z. Social Anxiety (Social Phobia).

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.