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Social Anxiety Disorder

What Is Social Anxiety?

The essential feature of social anxiety disorder is a marked, or intense, fear or anxiety of social situations in which the individual may be scrutinized by others. In children the fear or anxiety must occur in peer settings and not just during interactions with adults (Criterion A). When exposed to such social situations, the individual fears that he or she will be negatively evaluated. The individual is concerned that he or she will be judged as anxious, weak, crazy, stupid, boring, intimidating, dirty, or unlikeable. The individual fears that he or she will act or appear in a certain way or show anxiety symptoms, such as blushing, trembling, sweating, stumbling over ones' words, or staring, that will be negatively evaluated by others (Criterion B). Some individuals fear offending others or being rejected as a result. Fear of offending others- for example, by a gaze or showing anxiety symptoms- may be the predominant fear in individuals from cultures with strong collectivistic orientations.*


*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2013. 203. Print.

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