Many people feel ill at ease in social situations. However, people who suffer from Social Phobia often experience SUCH extreme fear of scrutiny, humiliation or being judged by others that they may have a panic attack - or simply avoid social situations altogether. The most common form of Social Phobia is fear of public speaking. It is also typical to fear social situations to the extent that EVEN the possibility of interpersonal interaction can cause extreme distress and an overwhelming desire to escape or avoid the situation. Some Social Phobias are confined to a specific situation, such as intense fear of using a public restroom, eating with strangers, making a phone call, being called on in a meeting or having to meet someone new. When people with Social Phobia aren't able to avoid the feared social situation, they may experience a variety of symptoms including rapid heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, trembling or weakness. Blushing Phobia, called Erythrophobia, may also accompany Social Phobia. People with Blushing Phobia typically experience extreme, uncontrolled blushing even in casual social situations. Knowing that others see them blushing causes considerable embarrassment and nervousness - and even more blushing. Most people with Social Phobia may recognize that their fears are unreasonable and excessive, yet they typically are unable to control their anxiety, as well as the physical and psychological reactions experienced when they come face to face with the source of their fear. Social Phobia typically develops between the ages of 11 and 15, and rarely after the age of 25. And, while Social Phobia affects both males and females, women and girls are twice as likely as men and boys to develop Social Phobia. Ultimately, Social Phobia may become so debilitating that it can keep a person from being successful at work or school, as well as prevent them from experiencing what would otherwise be enjoyable activities with colleagues, family and friends. Most people with Social Phobia can obtain relief from their fear and anxiety by seeking help from a trained therapist. Treatment typically includes behavioral therapy, medication - or, often, a combination of the two. Behavior therapy helps Social Phobia sufferers through coping skills, relaxation techniques and cognitive therapies that may help change unwanted thought patterns through controlled exposure to their fear. Medications used in the treatment of Social Phobia often include antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, which can help alleviate symptoms and enhance the effectiveness of therapy. Social Phobia can be treated successfully. If you - or someone you know - is affected by Social Phobia, consult a mental health professional.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012