Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia), is characterized by a fear of social situations in which the individual has the potential to be scrutinized by others. A person with social phobia fears that they will act in a way that will be negatively evaluated, leading to humiliation, embarrassment, or rejection by others. Their anxiety is disproportional to the actual threat posed by the social situation, and causes significant distress or impairment in various areas of functioning.

Some studies estimate that around 12% of the population has experienced social phobia at some point during their lives, making it one of the most prevalent anxiety disorders. The most common situations that are feared include public speaking/performance, speaking up in meetings/class, meeting new people, or talking to people in authority.

Evidence suggests that children who exhibit inhibited behavior are at increased risk for developing social phobia. Timid behavior, avoidance or wariness of novel toys and unfamiliar faces, and general reticence during social situations are associated with higher elevated risk of social anxiety. Additional factors that are associated with social phobia include peer victimization, sociometric status, sensitivity to rejection, and the parent-child relationship. Generally, social anxiety disorder begins at a young age (around 15 or 16 years old in girls and boys, respectively).  If not treated, it often persists for decades.


Information on Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). 

Information on Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) from Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy.