Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is a condition characterized by persistent and excessive self-consciousness. Children with the disorder have an irrational fear of others’ judgment, which can cause them to either avoid anxiety-inducing situations or else suffer through them with intense distress.
- A persistent fear of being judged. Children with social anxiety disorder often worry “What if I do something stupid?” or “What if I say the wrong thing?”
- Dreading and avoiding anxiety-provoking situations, like giving presentations, meeting new people, going to parties, eating in front of people, etc.
- Panic reactions, such as sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath
- Significant distress or impairment especially during socializing or at school
The treatment for social anxiety can require both behavioral therapy and medication.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven successful in improving a child’s social and coping skills during anxiety-provoking situations. Exposure therapy, a kind of CBT that involves carefully and gradually exposing kids to a feared situation, has been shown to be particularly effective.
SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have proven effective at managing some symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Medications called beta blockers may also be prescribed to curb the fear response and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, such as palpitations and sweating.
Read more about social anxiety disorder.