What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?

The exact cause of social phobia is unknown. However, current research supports the idea that it is caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetics. Negative experiences also may contribute to this disorder, including:

  • bullying
  • family conflict
  • sexual abuse

Physical abnormalities such as a serotonin imbalance may contribute to this condition. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood. An overactive amygdala (a structure in the brain that controls fear response and feelings or thoughts of anxiety) may also cause these disorders.

Anxiety disorders can run in families. However, researchers aren’t sure if they’re actually linked to genetic factors. For example, a child might develop an anxiety disorder by learning the behavior of one of their parents who has an anxiety disorder. Children can also develop anxiety disorders as a result of being raised in controlling or overprotective environments.

Diagnosing Social Anxiety Disorder

There is no medical test to check for social anxiety disorder. Your healthcare provider will diagnose social phobia from a description of your symptoms. They can also diagnose social phobia after examining certain behavioral patterns.

During your appointment, your healthcare provider will ask you to explain your symptoms. They will also ask you to talk about situations that cause your symptoms. The criteria for social anxiety disorder includes:

  • a constant fear of social situations due to fear of humiliation or embarrassment
  • feeling anxious or panicky before a social interaction
  • a realization that your fears are unreasonable
  • anxiety that disrupts daily living

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