- An increased fear of social situations, such as going out for drinks or a meal with friends, going to parties or other functions.
- Fear of having to “perform” in any way, such as giving a speech, singing or presenting a talk or facilitating a discussion.
- A heightened fear of the sufferer embarrassing themselves in public such as falling over, tripping or making a fool of themselves, resulting in getting laughed at or teased.
- Blushing, sweating, panic or anxiety attacks. A racing heartbeat, dry mouth and feeling of not being able to breathe. These symptoms will occur particularly whilst out in public.
Sufferers are usually aware that their fears and anxieties are irrational and don’t make any sense, but are at a loss to stop them. Social phobia usually occurs after the sufferer has, in the past, experienced some form of social embarrassment or bullying which has made them feel acutely aware of themselves and any perceived shortcomings they may have.
Initially, talking therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy will be offered as a means of learning to cope and understand that in ninety nine percent of cases, the fears the sufferer has will not come true. Graded exposure to whatever the sufferer is afraid of socially will be undertaken, during which time anxieties and fears should gradually decrease. If there is more than one social phobia, they will be tackled individually until the anxiety and fears surrounding them have decreased enough to make them bearable.
In more severe cases, medications may be prescribed too, such as a simple anti-depressant, beta blocker or a very short course of benzodiazepines to aid sleep, rest and decrease the feelings of panic and anxiety that are experienced.