Social phobia is a very exagerated shyness typified by persistent and strong feelings of anxiety and fear when facing certain social situations, interacting with others, or even when being observed, to such an extent that this feeling greatly interferes in the development of the normal life of those who suffer it.
People with social phobia are well aware of the irrationality of their feelings, but nevertheless feel great aprehension when facing the feared situation and therefore they will do anything to escape it, and will start avoiding all sorts of social situations, in this way inhibiting the person´s functional character.In these feared social situations the social phobic will be constantly worried that other people might think they are anxious, weak, silly or strange.
One of the main characteristics of social phobia is the strong anxiety felt before the feared events take place, known as “anticipated anxiety”.People start worrying and feeling terror before confronting the feared situation, so, once they actually face it, and due to their nervousness, it comes out worse, this leading to an increase in the level of “anticipated anxiety”next time they confront the same situation.A vicious circle is created and which is self generating.
One should first get in touch with a psychologist who can help us follow a personalized treatment.Nevertheless psychological treatment alone doesn´t guarantee results, for very often the disorder has become deeply rooted in the patients life, making him believe the problem is a part of his personality and not a learned behaviour based on erroneous and unconscious patterns, which is what it actually is.
The therapy which has proved to be the most efficient when treating social phobia is cognitive-behavioural therapy.
The cognitive side of it consists in training the patient to detect his thoughts and replace or modify those which are not useful to improve his quality of life.The behavioural means a controlled exposure to those situations causing anxiety.What is achieves with this system is that the angst caused by various situations will gradually decrease down to a level the patient can control.The psychologist must teach the patiend some techniques based on social skills to help him control his anxiety and prevent the physiological symptoms.After months of treatment the patient should be able to face situations he would never have been able to face before.
The combination of both therapies will allow those who suffer these disorders to get to know their way of thinking, to change it, and as a result to improve their quality of life.