Fear of socializing (social phobia)

Excessive fear of embarrassment in social situations that is extremely intrusive and can have debilitating effects on personal and professional relationships. Phobias are persistent, irrational fears of certain objects or situations. People plagued by phobias recognize that their fears may be excessive or unreasonable, but are unable to overcome them. The symptoms and signs of social phobia include blushing, sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, nausea or other stomach discomfort, lightheadedness, and other symptoms of anxiety. If not treated, social phobia can be extremely disabling to a person's work, social and family relationships. In extreme cases, a person may begin to avoid all social situations and become housebound. Effective treatments for social phobias include medications, a specific form of psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy, or a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Medications for social phobias include antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), as well as drugs known as high-potency benzodiazepenes. People with a specific form of social phobia, called performance phobia, can be helped with drugs called beta-blockers. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches patients to react differently to the situations and bodily sensations that trigger anxiety symptoms. For example, a type of cognitive-behavioral treatment known as "exposure therapy" involves helping patients become more comfortable with situations that frighten them by gradually increasing exposure to the situation. "Phobia" is derived from the Greek "phobos" fear.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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