The fear of embarrassment is a constant presence in a teen’s life. The fear of saying the wrong thing at a party. The fear of wearing the wrong thing at school and facing judgment. The fear of having to give a speech or presentation in front of one’s classmates.
It’s occasionally unpleasant, but a certain amount of anxiety over embarrassment is perfectly normal for an adolescent. A teen with social anxiety disorder – also called social phobia – is different. They experience intense fear over every social interaction – even with their friends. Worse, they often want to be more sociable. Sovereign Health can help. Rancho San Diego, our residential treatment center for adolescents east of San Diego, offers teens a safe, quiet and comfortable place to work on their problems and reach their true potential.
For one thing, social anxiety disorder isn’t shyness – a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study in 2011 found only 12 percent of youth who self-identified as “shy” met the criteria for social anxiety disorder.
To people with social anxiety disorder, every interaction carries with it the threat of embarrassment, fear and humiliation. Most people might feel nervousness before, say, a first date; a person with social anxiety disorder will agonize over the date for weeks beforehand and experience extreme anxiety when the date finally rolls around. Even the simple, mundane activities of ordinary life can make a patient with this disorder unable to function.
In teens, the disorder is particularly isolating. Social anxiety disorder prevents teens from making the crucial social connections necessary for development. Worse, the disorder often persists into adulthood and beyond: The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports 36 percent of people with social anxiety disorder live with the symptoms for a decade or more before finally seeking help.