The main feature of Social Phobia is a marked and persistent fear of social
or performance situations in which embarrassment may occur. When the avoidance,
fear or anxious anticipation of the event significantly interferes with an
individual’s functioning in life the diagnosis of social phobia is appropriate.
While adults and adolescents recognize this fear as unreasonable and excessive,
the event triggering it will usually be avoided. Generally, individuals with
this disorder are fearful that they will be judged by observers to be “crazy,
weak, nervous or stupid”. They may fear speaking in public because they
worry that their voice will shake or their hands tremble and others will notice
this. Individuals with social phobia almost always experience physical symptoms
of anxiety such as heart palpitations, tremors, sweating, gastrointestinal
discomfort or muscle tension in feared social situations.
Associated descriptive features
• hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection
• difficulty being assertive
• low self-esteem
• feelings of inferiority
• underachievement in school or at work
Social Anxiety in Children
The presentation of social anxiety disorder in children is different from
adults and adolescents in that children rarely have the opportunity to avoid
the feared event. Children with social anxiety will often be described as
extremely shy and withdrawn from others. While adults with this disorder recognize
that their fears are illogical, children do not. Children with social anxiety
will display inhibited interactions with others, excessive clinging to familiar
people, freezing, crying and tantrums in fearful situations. They will generally
be unable to articulate their fear but will show it in behavior. In unfamiliar
social settings children will shrink from others, refuse to participate in
group play or social activities and attempt to remain close to familiar adults.
Children generally will be unable to describe or identify the source of their
fear and anxiety.
Warning signs of social anxiety
• very uncomfortable in the spotlight, overly passive and inhibited
• does not initiate contact with others, seek out friends, invite others
over to play
• speaks in very low voice, no eye contact, mumbles and looks at the
floor when encouraged to speak up
• isolated from others in the classroom or social setting
• terrified of making a mistake, being called on in classroom, reading
• suffers from anxiety symptoms(sweating, racing heart, stomach ache,
freezing, tantrums) when facing a feared situation list-from adaa.org social
anxiety in children (adapted from Triumph Over Shyness by Murray B. Stein,
M.D. and John R. Walker, Ph.D.)
Children who exhibit symptoms of social anxiety consistently over a period
of time would benefit from and examination by a mental health specialist.
here to take a confidential screening for social anxiety disorder
:the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgment, evaluation, and inferiority.