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Definition of Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder

Updated on November 7, 2012

What is Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder or SAD is a psychological illness wherein the affected person experiences extreme fear or phobia towards social environment. This environment can be a campus life, a busy mall even the local park. He/she can then display various symptoms such as blushing, sweating, trembling and may even experience a panic attack.

The root cause for this disorder is the perceived belief in a patient, that they are the center of attention in a public setting. They believe that people are scrutinizing their every move and any small misstep can result in over all embarrassment.

Feeling so, he/she avoids social situation as much as possible even tending to lead a sedentary life to overcome their fear.

Causes attributed to Social Anxiety Disorder

The onset of SAD can be attributed to some of these factors

  • Childhood experience :- Children who had been excessively bullied, humiliated or rejected can develop social phobia later on in life. Also family issues such as abuse, conflicts can also contribute in a large way.
  • Brain chemistry :- The neurotransmitter Serotonin plays an important role in controlling our various emotions and mood swings. People who are extra sensitive to serotonin, tends to develop SAD
  • A portion of the brain known as Amygdala help in controlling the fear response. Over active Amygdala can cause heightened anxiety and stress in a person
  • Hereditary traits :- If there is a case history of social phobia within the family, probability rate for recurrence is high. However studies do not really validate this claim.


The main symptom projected by SAD, is the inability to face a social situation, However this alone cannot maintain or establish the fact that the person suffers from social phobia, Other notable symptoms include

  • Excessive worry about embarrassing or humiliating oneself.
  • Difficulty talking or having stammered speech.
  • Feeling of being judged by others.
  • Feeling that others might notice one being anxious.
  • Avoiding eye contact

Physical symptoms

  • Blushing
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Fast heart beat
  • Stomach upset

Is worry really the solution to your problem

When I suffered from SAD, I experienced lot of thoughts which are mostly negative in nature. Some of the thoughts were

  1. I do not deserve to be loved.
  2. I will embarrass myself in front of others.
  3. People will notice my every move, my every action and judge me through this.
  4. It happened in the past, it will happen in the future.

Although these opinions or thoughts can look rational and logical, the truth is far from it. The negative thoughts try to disguise themselves as positive, so the affected person believes in them. So how to get out of this thinking loop. Here are some steps that helped me conquer the irrational worries.

  1. Be aware of your thoughts. Understand that the worry felt, is just one of the symptoms projected by SAD and not the reality as it seems. By acknowledging this, half the battle is won.
  2. Start by taking small steps to conquer your fear. Maintain a walking routine in your neighborhood. Because you are near to your home and near to people you know, there would be less fear of the unknown. This simple technique can provide real confidence booster. Follow it up with shopping in local grocery and supermarket. Take a friend along if you need support at any point.
  3. GAD can be triggered by unpleasant child hood experience.When being separated by rest of the friend circle or having difficulty learning, can cause reduction in our self esteem. Most of us cling to the past and is unable to let go. This can be countered by mindful awareness. The basic concept is, Past is a phase which can be termed as dead. It has no influence on your present or future events. Future is again a mystery which cannot be envisioned. What we are left with, is the present. Here one has unlimited power to change both his/her past as well as future
  4. I used to believe that people noticed my every step, every action and judge me accordingly, However nothing is far from the truth. Everyone is so preoccupied with their own lives that they hardly have time for anyone else. Even if you bump into someone by mistake, chances are they would forget you within a moment.
  5. Anti depressant medicine can provide comfort and can also reduce the symptoms of SAD. Consult a Psychiatrist if need be, who can provide required counselling and can prescribe the right medication.


Summary- Social Anxiety Disorder is Curable

The main concept to be understood is SAD is a psychological illness and not part of a person's character. Social anxiety affects number of people worldwide irrespective of age, race or language barrier. The silver lining however is that, with proper counselling and medical help, war against SAD can easily be won


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