Understanding Social Phobia as a Mental Health Disorder


Social phobia is also referred to as ‘social anxiety’. It is a mental health disorder that causes extreme self-consciousness and overwhelming anxiety in a person in various social situations. Most people believe that social phobia is a minor fear of people and socialization. In reality, social phobia ranks third on the list of the most serious mental health disorders in the world.

What is social phobia?

 Medical experts explain that those who have social phobia or social anxiety disorder feel a strong and persistent fear that people are constantly watching and judging them. Their biggest worry is that they would either be humiliated or would have to face embarrassment for their actions.

It is critical to understand that social anxiety disorder is not the same as ‘shyness’. It is actually a serious mental condition that can cause an individual to lead a very poor quality of life. Research suggests that people suffering from social phobia are also likely to experience other psychiatric disorders at some point in their lives (for example, drug abuse or depression). The same is not true for people with general shyness.

The fear of negative judgments/evaluations in social situations is the primary cause of social anxiety in an individual. Social phobia may be restricted to just one kind of situation, for example, fear of public speaking or eating in front of an audience. In severe situations, it could negatively impact almost every area of your life. It is also a chronic condition since it fails to be cured naturally over a period of time, that is, a person will not likely feel better over the years or gain control over the social phobia with the passage of time.

Symptoms and treatment

 Social phobia is usually identified with the help of these symptoms:

  • High intensity of fear, anxiety, and nervousness
  • Racing heart
  • Dry mouth (and/or throat)
  • Extreme sweating
  • Muscle twitching
  • Shivering/trembling
  • Blushing

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is deemed to be the most effective treatment for social phobia. It helps patients identify alternative, more reasonable ways of responding to their feelings and thoughts. With CBT, you will learn to implement new behaviours that cause less fear and anxiety. You will also learn about helpful social skills wherever required. Cognitive behavioural therapy for social anxiety is slightly different from traditional counseling since it involves active skills training in addition to regular homework assignments.

At CBT Toronto, we specialize in treating social phobia with the use of CBT. Call us today to get help!