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Social Phobia

 
 

 What is it?

 

What is Social Phobia?

Social phobia involves a marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which embarrassment may occur. (See also "Specific Phobia" for Specific Phobias)

Fears may be associated with most social situations related to public performance or social interactions, such as participating in small groups, meeting strangers, dating or playing sports.

Adapted from Anxiety Disorders: An Information Guide © 2009 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
 

 Symptoms

 

Signs & symptoms of Social Phobia

Cognitive signs and symptoms include thoughts such as:

  • “I’ll look anxious and stupid.”
  • “People will think I’m weird.”


Physical signs and symptoms include:

  • blushing
  • sweating
  • dry mouth.


Behavioural signs and symptoms include:

  • avoiding social gatherings, parties, meetings
  • avoiding public speaking

 

Causes & risk factors

There are no clear-cut answers as to why some people develop social phobias, although research suggests that various factors may be involved. Like most mental health problems, social phobias appear to be caused by a combination of biological and psychological factors and challenging life experiences. These include:

  • stressful or traumatic life events (e.g., bullying)
  • a family history of anxiety disorders
  • other medical or psychiatric problems.

Adapted from Anxiety Disorders: An Information Guide © 2009 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
 

 Treatment

 

Treatment for Social Phobia

Many psychological treatments, such as relaxation training, meditation, biofeedback and stress management, can help with social phobias. Many people with social phobias also benefit from supportive counselling or couples or family therapy. However, experts agree that the most effective form of treatment for social phobias is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT for social phobia may include exposure therapy which involves direct or imagined controlled exposure to objects or situations that arouse anxiety. Medications have also been proven effective, and many people receive CBT and medication in combination.

Adapted from Anxiety Disorders: An Information Guide © 2009 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
 

 Finding Help

 

Finding Help, Treatment and Support

Treatment from CAMH 

Help for Families from CAMH

Ontario Mental Health Helpline (open 24/7 for treatment anywhere in Ontario)​​

 

 Resources

 
CAMH Switchboard 416-535-8501
CAMH General Information Toronto: 416-595-6111 Toll Free: 1-800-463-6273
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