“I felt extremely isolated from my friends and family because I couldn't explain to them what I was feeling. I had no idea what was wrong with me.”

Ricky Williams: A Story of Social Anxiety Disorder

Many people know Ricky Williams as the Heisman Trophy-winning running back who had it all — fame, money, and talent. Selected as the fifth NFL draft pick out of college, he became a celebrity overnight. With a successful career underway, who would believe that this football sensation who played for crowds of 100,000 dreaded the thought of going to the grocery store or meeting a fan on the street?

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“I found it most ironic; I was someone who enjoyed groups and events, and here I was hamstrung with a phobia that made me detest groups, particularly functions involving a meal.”

My Panic and Anxiety: More Than Nerves

The summer before my senior year in college, my mother died of lung cancer at the age of 57. I dealt with my loss privately, as I had handled most of my problems throughout adolescence: I repressed my grief and kept moving. I avoided talking about my mother's death and I continued my college work and social schedule as if nothing had happened.

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“Was I going to spend the next 40 years making clever excuses about why I was unable to participate in living, laughing, and being whole? ”

Determined to Recover

Rita ClarkAfter more than 20 years of not going to a grocery store, restaurant, or public place alone, not driving out of my safe area and not attending school functions for my children, I began my difficult recovery from panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder.

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Screening for Social Anxiety Disorder

If you suspect that you might suffer from social anxiety disorder, answer the questions below, print out the results, and share them with your health care professional.

Are you troubled by the following?

Screening for an Anxiety Disorder: Children

If you think your child may have an anxiety disorder, please answer the questions below, print out the page, and share the results with your child's health care professional.

Treatment

Like other anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder can be treated.

Most people find significant improvement with professional care. Treatment success varies among people. Some may respond to treatment after a few months, while other people may need more than a year.

Treatment can be complicated if a person has more than one anxiety disorder or suffers from depression or substance abuse, which is why it must be tailored to the individual.

Symptoms

Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder may include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea or other abdominal distress, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, headaches, and feelings of detachment and loss of self-control.

Everyone can relate to feeling anxious before giving a presentation or asking someone out on a date.

News and Research

Adolescent Social Stress Increases Risk of Diseases Later in Life

A study of adolescents who experience social and financial stress shows they have an increased risk for higher blood pressure, body weight, and cholesterol levels and the associated diseases later in life. (Annals of Behavioral Medicine, published online) Read more. 

Social Anxiety Disorder

It’s the extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations: Social anxiety disorder can wreak havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it. This disorder is not simply shyness that has been inappropriately medicalized: Read about the difference.

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ADAA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, OCD, PTSD, depression, and related disorders and to improving the lives of all people who suffer from them.

 

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