Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder


Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) or Social Phobia is experienced by 4.7% of Australian adults (approximately 5 in 100) over a 12-month period. SAD is characterised by a persistent anxiety and fear in social or performance situations or when the person feels exposed to unfamiliar people or fear they are being examined or judged by others. People with SAD may often avoid social or performance situations in which embarrassment or humiliation may occur. These situations may include public speaking, dating, eating and drinking or writing in front of others.



People with SAD fear acting in a way that they believe will be embarrassing or humiliating or that may reveal physical signs of anxiety (e.g. sweating, blushing). When people with SAD face feared social situations their physical symptoms may take the form of a panic attack (a discrete period of intense and sudden fear, apprehension or terror, with physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, blushing, trembling, sweating and faintness). A person with SAD usually recognises that their fear is unreasonable or excessive. While many people show signs of shyness and inhibition, people with SAD can experience considerable disruption to their daily lives and quality of life, with some people being unable to go out in public or facing intense distress when they do enter social situations.

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