Social anxiety disorder, otherwise known as Social Phobia, is characterized by a fear of being judged or evaluated negatively by other people in social situations, or of embarrassing one's self in front of others. Social anxiety disorder is the third most common mental disorder, affecting upwards 5-12% of the general population at some point in life. Approximately 5% of children and adolescents suffer from social anxiety disorder. In general, females tend to be more affected by social anxiety than males, and this gender difference is usually more pronounced in adolescents and young adults. Although the majority of social anxiety disorders cases start in adolescence, these difficulties can start as early as preschool.
Social anxiety disorder is not the same as shyness, a normally occurring personality trait or style. Shy individuals may be more introverted around other people, but they don't necessarily experience the same level of distressing and intrusive fears about being judged or intense physiological arousal to social situations.
Intense social anxiety may be experienced or anticipated across a variety of social situations, leading to interfering patterns of avoidance, disruption in one's routine and ability to function, and missed opportunities for advancing in or enjoying one's life.
Anyone can feel socially anxious from time to time, and social fears are relatively common in the general population. However, these experiences become problematic when they interfere in various aspects of one's life, for example:
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