Social anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder that presents as an unreasonable and excessive fear of social scenarios. Individuals with a social anxiety disorder are often nervous or self-conscious in public and fear being watched, judged, and criticized by others.
Typically, those with social anxiety will experience excessive stress when they:
Social anxiety disorders fall into one of two categories: general social anxiety and specific social anxieties.
Those who have general social anxiety are uncomfortable and anxious in nearly all social situations, no matter where they are. However, specific social anxiety means that an individual only experiences stress in a particular circumstance. For example, public speaking is a common specific social anxiety.
Generalized social anxiety is the most common form of social anxiety.
Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder, and there are more than 15 million American adults today with social anxiety disorder. However, there is most likely more as it takes 36% of individuals ten years or more to seek treatment.1
Social anxiety can manifest physically with symptoms that include:
In addition to physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder, there are many psychological symptoms of anxiety as well:
Most of us feel anxious in front of others at certain points in our lives. Doing a job interview or speaking in public are common fears. However, a social anxiety disorder results in behaviors that may interfere with their lives:
Some common experiences that people may actively avoid include:
When social anxiety disorder is left untreated, it can take over an individual’s life. Extreme social anxiety disorder can result in other mental health disorders, including depression and substance abuse issues. In addition, severe or acute social anxiety, called social phobia, can result in panic attacks, paralyzing fears, and extreme measures to avoid exposure.
There is no one set cause of social anxiety. However, social anxiety causes include:
While there is no social anxiety disorder test, speaking with a healthcare provider can help determine a diagnosis. Typically, a diagnosis consists of:
In addition, a professional will use DSM-5 criteria to determine whether your symptoms qualify as social anxiety. The criteria include:
Like social anxiety, there are several causes of substance abuse. For some, social anxiety is a significant factor. Common symptoms of a substance use disorder include:
Living with social anxiety can be crippling and interfere with essential activities. Some individuals with social anxiety disorder turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate. While some may turn to alcohol or certain drugs to combat feelings of anxiety, it’s not uncommon for a substance misuse disorder to develop.
Read on to learn more about the dual diagnosis process for social anxiety and addiction, alongside the types of substances most commonly abused by those suffering with social anxiety.
Getting a dual diagnosis is critical for proper treatment. For many, treating a substance abuse disorder without also addressing the social anxiety disorder that fueled it will cause higher instances of relapse. Social anxiety treatment is a critical factor in maintaining sobriety.
Unfortunately, there is a strong link between social anxiety and alcoholism. Temporarily relieves social inhibition, leading to lower anxiety levels. However, this short-term solution often fuels social anxiety disorder. Anxiety most often increases as the alcohol wears off, referred to as a boomerang effect.
There is help for both social anxiety disorder and substance abuse. With the right social anxiety treatment plan, many individuals can take the journey to recovery while overcoming their anxiety. The typical steps of substance abuse and social anxiety treatment include:
There are several types of substance abuse and social anxiety therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (or CBT) is considered the most effective social anxiety treatment. It helps individuals retrain their thinking patterns and focus on shifting their actions to overcome their fear.
In addition, social anxiety group treatment can help individuals receive therapy as a group or family and uncover underlying interpersonal relationships.
Many individuals in recovery avoid the medications used to treat acute anxiety because they have high abuse potential. Typically, therapy for social anxiety is effective for those with anxiety disorders.
Medication can be used to help improve the symptoms of detox. Naltrexone and disulfiram are often used to help improve recovery, but they do need to be taken under the supervision of professionals.
While there is no one social anxiety disorder cure, social anxiety and substance abuse disorders are treatable. With the help of professionals, you or your loved one can be on the road to recovery. Contact one of our experts today to see how we can get you on the path to a better life.
If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.