Silver Spring, Md. (April 21, 2009) — Sarah struggled with loneliness, anxiety, and fear. At age 27, she was isolated and had no lasting relationships. A nurse, she was anxious every day about having to discuss her patients with her coworkers. She knew that her fears and extreme shyness were holding her back. After years of suffering, she received professional help, and she was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
Sarah is like many other people who live in isolation, afraid to get help. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 15 million American men and women suffer from social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. It is characterized by persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being judged negatively by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated.
People with social anxiety disorder experience severe anxiety in social encounters, often accompanied by a racing heart, shaking, sweating, blushing, nausea, shortness of breath, or other physical symptoms. Most people with the disorder avoid the types of social situations—meeting with coworkers, attending family events, even talking on the phone—that cause them extreme mental and physical distress. Learn more at www.adaa.org/socialanxietydisorder .
This anxiety disorder can prevent people from participating fully in life. They often become dependent on alcohol if they try to self-medicate. And social anxiety disorder frequently occurs with other anxiety disorders, as well as depression, which it can predict in adolescents and young adults. Studies show that people with this combination of mental illness have an increased rate of suicide attempts.
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) offers hope in the form of a new self-help book. Triumph Over Shyness: Conquering Social Anxiety Disorder, by Murray B. Stein, MD, MPH, and John R. Walker, PhD, (ADAA, 2nd ed., 2009; $15) is now available through the ADAA bookstore .
The authors are longtime experts in the field who write with humor and warmth. Based on their experiences working with people like Sarah, they illustrate how to overcome social anxiety disorder by m