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Social Anxiety Disorder


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Glossary of Terms Terms:


Diagnosis of Social Phobia


Social Phobia diagnosis is made through observation of behavior and some signs emitted by a person (example: a child remains mute in front of unknown children) and/or through information provided by the person (example: reporting intense anxiety in one or more social situations). Some characteristics occur systematically: when in contact with one or more persons and performance is expected (speaking, writing, singing, eating, interacting), strong anxiety arises resulting in an intense desire to flee the environment.

These patterns can occur in many situations, but some are apparently more common: when a person is about to speak in public, to start contact with the opposite sex, or to speak with strangers. Though less intense, it is also common for someone to have anxiety in family life.


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Social Phobia / Social Anxiety Disorder diagnosis can vary from one professional to another, due to the particular aspects of each case. Thus, one professional may judge a person as having Social Anxiety Disorder, while another professional may deem his condition to be Shyness. A person may be considered by one professional as having moderate phobia and severe phobia by another professional.

Variation from one professional to another may include not just the degree or intensity of Social Anxiety Disorder but also the diagnosis itself. Many do not distinguish between Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder and everyone who feels ill at ease or embarrassed in the presence of others may be regarded as having Shyness or Social Anxiety Disorder. For these professionals, signs and symptoms will determine degree only. For instance, the diagnosis may be Mild, Moderate, or Severe Shyness; or Mild, Moderate, or Several Social Anxiety Disorder. On the other hand, many professionals do distinguish between Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder, this website's author among them. Shyness is not a medical diagnosis. As described in this website, it does not fit into the Social Anxiety Disorder diagnosis of the International Desease Classification, number 10, of the World Health Organization, nor into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, of the American Psychiatry Association.

In order to come up with a diagnosis, the criteria recommended by these health organizations must be complied with. The first such criterion is deciding whether the situation meets the requirements of Phobia definition.

Phobia is irrational and persistent fear of a situation, object, or activity that generates an intense desire to avoid it. This leads the person to face the situation, object, or activity with much fear or to avoid it altogether.


If the individual displays irrational fear of social performance situations, feels a strong desire to avoid them, withstands them with much suffering (high anxiety), and is plagued by personal significant loss or the perspective of future loss, he has Social Anxiety Disorder. In other words, it can be said that the anxiety experienced by this person in these situations is high and is repeated time he goes through such situations, whether or not the experience leads to panic.


Other criteria follow below, which must be taken into account in diagnosing Social Anxiety Disorder. Outside that situation, the person is aware (or may come to be aware) of the irrationality of his fear (this is not required in a child). In children and adolescents, the diagnosis must be made only if the signs and symptoms persist for at least six months. A record must be kept of the social situations in which anxiety occurs, as well as their number—whether in two or more situations (it rarely occurs in only one situation). The professional must observe whether Social Anxiety Disorder results from some medical or temporary social condition. Family history usually records a similar occurrence in other person(s), especially in one of the parents.

"Generalized" will be added to the Social Anxiety Disorder diagnosis if the phobia appears in most social situations.

Related Pages:

Social Anxiety Disorder - Differential Diagnosis

Anxiety Attacks in Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Anxiety Disorder



Articles on Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia and Shyness:

Basic Articles:

Self-Concept/Self- Actualization – Shyness Nucleus

Self-concept, Body Image, Self-depreciation and Shyness

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder: Neurophysiological Approach

Shyness Articles:

What Is Shyness? Fear, Anxiety, Anguish?

Questions and Answers on Shyness

Humiliation Stories, School Spankings: Examples of Shyness Causes

Social Anxiety Disorder Articles:

Social Anxiety Disorder: What It Is, The Anxiety Attack Symptoms

Social Anxiety Attacks: Incidence, Onset, History, Evolution

Social Phobia / Anxiety Disorder: Treatment

Social Phobia / Anxiety Disorder: Differential Diagnosis

Avoidant Personality Disorder

Medications in Social Phobia: Side Effects

Antidepressants Tricyclics: Side Effects

Metabolic Pathways Individual Differences and Medications Side Effects

Genetic Changes: Medications Side Effects

First Line Antidepressants - Side Effects
Social Anxiety and Shyness Articles:

Panic Disorder, Shyness, Social Phobia - Differences

Why Self-Help in Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder / Social Phobia Doesn’t Help You

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder: Medication Action

Facial Blushing, Redness of the Face, Ears and Neck

Psychoses, Shyness and Social Phobia




overcoming shyness

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