Teen Social Anxiety Disorder

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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.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Digestive problems and nausea
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing

Red Flags of Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Intense fear of any and all social situations
  • Avoidance of speaking to others out of fear of embarrassment or judgment
  • Having anxiety over an upcoming event
  • Fear symptoms of anxiety will be noticed
  • Signs of nervousness when around others: Blushing, nervous sweating and trembling
  • Constant fear of judgment from others
  • Anxiety about being around other people – even with a desire for companionship
  • Always expecting the worst possible outcome from every social situation

Causes and Risk Factors of Social Anxiety Disorder

Like many anxiety disorders, there seems to be no one cause for social anxiety disorder. Rather, several interacting factors seem to cause the illness to manifest:

  • Genes: Anxiety disorders run in families. However, it’s not clear whether that’s due to an actual hereditary component, or if it’s due to learned behavior.
  • Brain structure: Differences in brain structures, particularly the amygdala, may cause social anxiety disorder to develop due to an overactive fear reaction.
  • Other causes: Again, the disorder may develop due to learned behaviors – a child with a parent who has social phobia may “learn” social anxiety disorder by watching their parent’s fear reactions. Additionally, there’s a school of thought which suggests overprotective parenting may be a factor in the disorder as well.

Risk factors vary as well. Bad experiences in childhood – bullying, social rejection, humiliation – can cause the disorder to be triggered later in childhood. Also, a history of childhood abuse or family problems can also be a risk factor for social anxiety disorder. Life changes – a new school, a new stepparent after a divorce – can contribute to the disorder as well. Sometimes, children who are timid or withdrawn in new social situations develop the disorder, as do children who have medical conditions which invite ridicule, such as stuttering, Tourette syndrome or a condition which causes disfigurement.

Getting Social Anxiety Treatment

It’s a disorder which can cut an adolescent off from life, but social anxiety disorder treatment is available and effective. At Rancho San Diego, Sovereign Health’s staff of compassionate experts work with their adolescents, testing their boundaries and giving them the tools to better understand themselves and their world.

We make use of research-backed traditional social anxiety treatment methods along with alternative therapies like equine therapy to build up our patients’ innate strengths and allow them to fully participate in life. Additionally, the benefits of a residential center allow treatment to be received in a safe, secure environment which is monitored 24 hours a day.

Why Choose Sovereign Health?

Sovereign Health should be your first choice as care provider for your adolescent. Why?

  • Our staff is dedicated to their patients, treating both their mental disorder and any underlying problems which may be fueling it
  • Rancho San Diego is operated to the high standards of the Joint Commission, the largest and oldest health care accreditation organization in the U.S.
  • Teens can receive treatment in a pleasant, summer camp-like environment

A healthier life can start today – please call our 24/7 helpline to learn more about our programs for social anxiety treatment.

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