Social phobia is characterized by an excessive amount of social interactions or general fear of social situations, which can lead to avoidance of many or all social situations. The individual believes that he or she will be scrutinized by others. Exposure to social situations immediately provokes an anxiety response.
Physical symptoms often include excessive blushing, excess sweating, trembling, palpitations, and nausea. Stammering may be present, along with rapid speech. Panic attacks can also occur under intense fear and discomfort.
According to ICD-10 guidelines, the main diagnostic criteria of social phobia are fear of being the focus of attention, or fear of behaving in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating, avoidance and anxiety symptoms.
Patients often begin to self-medicate with alcohol, cannabis or other substances, which can accelerate the social withdrawal and the worsening of the condition.
Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment against social phobia.