Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition characterized by an intense and persistent fear of social situations or performance situations where the person may be observed, evaluated, or judged by others. People with social anxiety disorder often experience significant distress and anxiety in social settings, leading to avoidance of such situations.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is widely used for diagnosing mental health conditions, outlines the following criteria for Social Anxiety Disorder:
- Persistent Fear or Anxiety: The person experiences a marked and persistent fear or anxiety about one or more social situations where they may be exposed to scrutiny or potential negative evaluation from others.
- Social Situations Provoking Anxiety: The fear or anxiety is triggered by specific social situations, such as public speaking, meeting new people, eating in public, or participating in group activities.
- Fear of Negative Evaluation: The person is afraid of being humiliated, embarrassed, or negatively judged by others. They may be excessively concerned about saying or doing something perceived as foolish or embarrassing.
- Avoidance or Endurance with Fear: The person typically avoids or endures social situations with intense fear or anxiety. If they do confront these situations, it is often accompanied by significant distress.
- Interference with Daily Life: The fear, anxiety, or avoidance significantly interferes with the person’s daily routines, occupational or academic functioning, or social relationships.
- Duration: The fear, anxiety, or avoidance is persistent, typically lasting for six months or longer.
It’s important to note that Social Anxiety Disorder is a diagnosable mental health condition, and a proper diagnosis should be made by a qualified mental health professional based on a comprehensive evaluation of symptoms, functioning, and history. Treatment options for social anxiety disorder may include therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and in some cases, medication may be prescribed.