A generalized social phobic disorder is a persistent, often chronic, and constant fear of social situations that occur in the company of other people. It involves feelings of anxiety about meeting new people and being around crowds. Phobias frequently occur before exposure to a specific stimulus but can be triggered by exposure to certain situations or thoughts. The anxiety can be of such a severe degree that it interferes with work, social relationships, or daily activities. People who suffer from this disorder may find it nearly impossible to leave their homes.
Social phobias have been widely studied and diagnosed in many mental health settings. Simultaneously, the exact definition of this disorder has also been revised in recent years to include comorbidity with other anxiety disorders and introduce generalized social phobia as a separate entity. Generalized social phobias are different from specific fears, such as a fear of heights. Specific fears refer to an intense and particular fear of insects, spiders, snakes, or any other animal or object. When a generalized social phobia is included as a secondary condition, it occurs in people who already have different anxiety disorders or anxious and tense people before a social interaction. When the panic disorder is present, the patient is usually more severe than average in panic attacks.
Social Anxiety Disorder Level
The prevalence of the condition varies in different sources. A survey of adults found that 20% of college students suffer from at least some social anxiety disorder level. Besides, the disorder is more common in women than men. When the prevalence of generalized social phobia is examined according to age, it is apparent that it becomes higher among older individuals. The disorder is also more common in ethnic groups considered to be lower in the general population.
Genetic And Environmental Factors
Social phobias are believed to result from both genetic and environmental factors. Genetic factors include both genetic (physical) and behavioral elements. Besides, environmental factors can include the following: exposure to physical dangers, early childhood conditioning concerning behavior, and early socialization with limited exposure to various social actions and events. People with generalized social phobia have been reported to have suffered from early childhood sexual abuse, work-related stress, poverty, a personal history of depressive or bipolar disorder, and may also have suffered from the post-traumatic stress disorder.
Imbalance Of Brain Chemicals
The fear of social situations is believed to occur due to an imbalance of brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Some scientists believe that certain chemicals act as neurotransmitters. In the context of generalized social phobia and panic disorder, these chemicals cause the patient to experience symptoms similar to those caused by panic disorders. For instance, serotonin (which regulates mood and appetite), dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine have been associated with social situations and panic disorders.
Most Common Medications
One of the most common medications used for generalized social anxiety disorder is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). These medications help to block the reabsorption of serotonin in the body. It allows the body to maintain serotonin levels, which has been found to reduce symptoms of depression and panic disorders. Common SSRI drugs are Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Celexa. These medications’ effectiveness is often measured by how well the patient can cope with emotional stimuli and physical complications such as blushing, sweating, and tingling in the extremities.
Another common drug used for treating social anxiety disorder is Fluoxetine (Prozac and Focalin). Fluoxetine works by altering the way the brain processes information. This allows the patient to be more aware of their bodies and what they feel in certain situations, allowing them to control their thoughts and behaviors better. The SSRI medications are also used to treat patients with this condition since they seem to dampen emotional reactions to stressful situations and increase patients’ ability to remain calm. SSRIs include Prozac, Luvox, and Paxil.
Generalized social phobia symptoms may be caused by a genetic predisposition or experience in a specific situation where the person became fearful. For example, suppose a person suffered in a concentration class and learned that he might increase his anxiety symptoms due to the group’s members being smokers. In that case, he may try to avoid social situations where smoking occurs. In this case, avoidance would be seen as a way of dealing with stress.