Just lower in rank below depression and alcoholism, social anxiety disorder is the most common of all anxiety problems faced by Americans today. This condition typically occurs during adolescence or young adulthood, but it can arise at any time. Social anxiety disorder is more prevalent among women than men and can even occur as soon as the early stages of childhood. Some estimates reveal that nearly 20 million Americans suffer from social anxiety disorder in the United States alone.
While there is no individual known cause of social anxiety disorder, many researchers believe that psychological, biological, and environmental factors play a role in the onset of anxiety and panic attacks.
Social anxiety disorder can arise from humiliation or embarrassment at a past social event. It's possible that such an experience can cause one to cower from social interaction in order to avoid experiencing the same pain again.
In addition to being genetic, social anxiety disorder can also stem from a serotonin imbalance. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps transport information among nerve cells in the brain. A break in the communication among these chemical messengers can greatly change the way the brain responds to stressful situations.
Social anxiety disorder sufferers may develop their condition from watching the behavior of others or witnessing what happens to another person as a result of someone else's behavior. This disorder can also stem from being overprotected or sheltered by parents during childhood and adolescence.
Social anxiety disorder is treated through a variety of means such as social anxiety medication, cognitive-behavior therapy, and counseling. Medication for social anxiety includes everything from tranquilizers and antidepressants to beta-blockers. Each class of anti-anxiety medication is typically prescribed according to the symptoms a patient displays as well as suspected causes. In cognitive-behavior therapy, a trained therapist deals with the thoughts of social anxiety disorder sufferers by helping them to refrain from avoiding situations that typically cause anxiety. This method is often preferred by those who want to use non-medicinal methods for overcoming anxiety.