An estimated 15 million adults in the U.S. suffer from social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia), according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. A type of anxiety disorder, those with social anxiety disorder may find their lives so disrupted that they’re unable to function.
This disorder is much more than shyness: It’s characterized by an intense fear, especially the fear and anxiety of being judged or scrutinized by others, as well as feeling nauseous even in situations that aren’t seen as threatening to others. Symptoms include blushing, profuse sweating, dizziness, lightheadedness and shortness of breath, as well as trembling, nausea abdominal upset, rapid heartbeat and feelings of detachment and loss of control.
The average age of onset for social anxiety disorder is 13 and it may run in families. Adults may suffer with symptoms for a decade or longer before seeking treatment, but this condition is definitely treatable with professional help. Treatment generally includes psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medication, such as anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants.