Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan
Psikiyatrist

Social Anxiety Disorder

Stop everything you are doing, close your eyes, and think: you are walking towards a platform in a conference hall. Everyone’s looking at you in a crowded hall, where a great many academicians, your friends and students are present, as you are about the present your researches on a field you have been very successful at and you’ve been conducting studies for years. You go up there, and once you take a look at yourself, you realize that you are naked. Wouldn’t you run away from that place in shame? This short scenario does a good job in telling what people with social phobia experience.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social phobia is the name given to the state of distress experienced in social relationships. Complaints of the patients are generally as follows: this is a case that is characterized by an uncontrollable distress felt, sweating, excessive shivering and tachycardia when making a presentation somewhere or when serving a guest at your home. It is mainly observed in those having performance anxiety. There is a high possibility of observing social phobia in people who are focused on success. This approach has a psychological aspect for social phobia. However, in addition, social phobia has biological reasons as well. For instance, redness in face and neck, which is called flushing, along with occasional skin eruption, serious tachycardia and an increase in blood pressure in the cases of social phobia are the indicators that the subject has a biological aspect.

A person, who perceives social relationships as a threat, shows the “fight or run” reaction, like the panic disorder. The release of chemicals called adrenaline and similar neurotransmitters increases, which leads to a series of biological problems.

Treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder appears in the late period of panic disorder, which it accompanies. Biological, psychological and social approaches may be implemented for the treatment of social anxiety disorder.

In Social anxiety disorderCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) comes to the forefront as a psychotherapy technique. In this technique, the person is exposed to social stress initially in their dreams and then in reality, and they are taught some tactics and techniques to cope with it. In the chemical approach, however, a pharmacological technique is applied. Drugs like SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) are being successfully used. Tricyclic antidepressants can be used for patients showing resistance to these drugs.

If not treated, the progress of the disorder will become chronic. More radical endeavors, such as botox, are recommended to the patients who particularly seek a solution for flushing. Some endeavors regarding the nerve fibers that provoke flushing and sweating are also recommended and used. The best course of action is to seek a solution for a treatment at the early stage of the disorder before it progresses this way.

The disorder has a negative effect on functionality, and may lead to substance addiction in some occupational groups. Thus, it is attempted to cope with social phobia by taking alcohol and similar other substances.

This situation naturally brings along new medical problems, and makes the situation complicated. It is necessary to emphasize once again that acting quickly in the attempts for the treatment has countless benefits in the cases of social phobia, which starts with panic disorder, and for isolated social phobia patients.

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