Social Anxiety Disorder

Fear and Anxiety in Social Situations

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is also commonly called Social Phobia. People with SAD have an excessive fear of social situations. They suffer from extreme self-consciousness and worry that they will embarrass themselves in front of other people. They are very fearful of making mistakes and being judged by others. People with SAD tend to believe that the people they interact with have poor opinions of them.

Social Anxiety Disorder interrupts a person's ability to get through day to day life. It might be very difficult for a person with SAD to:

  • Make eye contact
  • Be introduced to strangers
  • Give presentations to a room full of people
  • Order from a waiter at a restaurant
  • Call to make a doctor's appointment
  • Use public restrooms


As a result of this intense anxiety, these individuals may resort to avoiding all situations in which they might interact with people they don't know or don't feel comfortable with. This avoidance can cause sufferers to become even more separated from the outside world and even from loved ones.

If a social meeting is planned that cannot be avoided, sufferers will often have an intense period of heightened anxiety as they prepare for and anticipate the event. This increased anxiety can lead to panic attacks.

Physical Symptoms

Some people with SAD may experience physical symptoms related to their anxiety such as:

  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Stuttering
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach

Social Anxiety Disorder Videos

What is Social Anxiety Disorder? - Health Matters

Teens with Social Anxiety Disorder, Successful People with Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety Disorder Resources

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Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Getting Help for Social Fears and Anxiety

At BWC we are committed to using empirically-supported treatments. This means that the strategies we recommend have been proven, through research, to be effective for most people. Specifically, we recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat anxiety disorders including SAD. For the treatment of SAD, therapists address the thought processes involved in the patient's fear that others are always negatively judging them. This helps patients recognize that this belief is caused by their own anxiety and not what other people are really thinking. Treatment usually lasts between 10 and 20 sessions, depending on the motivation of the patient and severity of the disorder.

Exposure Therapy

Part of this therapy includes something called in vivo (real life) exposure therapy, in which clinicians work with patients to seek the specific situations that they find particularly anxiety provoking. This part of therapy can seem very scary for many patients. However, as the patient is exposed to these situations more frequently and at longer intervals, the patient's anxiety naturally decreases. When this happens, these situations are no longer associated with discomfort and fear and therefore the patient does not feel the need to avoid them.

Specific Situations a Therapist May Work With a SAD Patient to Encounter:

  • Shaking hands, making eye contact, and talking with another clinician at the clinic
  • Walking through a crowded cafeteria
  • Writing and sending an email with deliberate spelling mistakes to a family member

SAD Information and Communities

Contact Us & Directions

Behavioral Wellness Clinic &
Delaware Valley OCD Clinic
225 Wilmington West Chester Pike
Chadds Ford, PA 19317
Phone: (484) 324-2749

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Clinical Director: Monnica Williams, PhD
Office Manager: Jasmine Terwilliger
Business Manager: Matthew Jahn