UQx PSYC1030.3x 3-4-3 Social Anxiety Disorder
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Do you ever feel awkward in social situations? Feeling anxious in social situations is very
common. How do we know when these kinds of anxieties
have crossed over into being a disorder? The key feature of Social Anxiety Disorder,
often referred to as Social Phobia, is fear or anxiety about or avoidance of social situations
and interactions in which there is the possibility of being scrutinised or judged by others. Common social interactions that might be very
anxiety-provoking for someone with this disorder include: eating in front of others, performing
in front of others, or having to meet someone new. As with Specific Phobia, the feared or avoided
situations almost always provoke anxiety; and are either avoided or endured with extreme
anxiety. The anxiety must have been present for at
least 6 months. Again, like Specific Phobia, the fear must
be out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social interaction or situation;
and must result in either intense distress and/or significant impairment in functioning. It is also important that the symptoms are
not better explained by either another mental illness or the physiological effects of either
substance use or a medical condition. In Western countries, the 12-month prevalence
rate for Social Anxiety Disorder is around 7%, and this is roughly the same whether we
are talking about adults or children and adolescents. Again, we see this disorder more commonly
in females – with this gender difference being slightly larger in adolescents and young
adults. Onset is between the ages of 8 and 15 years
for about 75% of people with this disorder, with onset in adulthood being reasonably rare.

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