Social phobia

Social Phobia

Social Phobia help



If you are suffering with social phobia in the Warrington region, or you think you may have social phobia, then read on to see if the symptoms are familiar?

Social phobia is the marked and persistent fear of social situations or where a performance is needed, public speaking for example. The main trait of the disorder is that of perceived and predicted embarrassment of the individual by others. This fear is enough to bring about high levels of anxiety and in some cases, may cause an episode of panic.

Similar to other anxiety conditions, the social phobic recognises that their fear is irrational and excessive, however, this is more the case in adults than in children.


Generally this fear is enough to form situations of avoidance in the individual, but in certain cases the subject, e.g. attending a staff meeting, endures the fear. Social phobia is diagnosed if the individual’s fear, avoidance or anticipation of encountering a stressful situation, markedly interferes with the subjects working and private life, causing them a fair degree of dysfunction.


It isn’t unusual to get nervous or anxious where a performance is involved, it is the way our bodies react to help us be on our toes and deliver the best possible performance. For example, there are well known singers who regularly vomit before a stage performance, this isn’t diagnosed as a social phobia because the singer isn’t fearful of being negatively judged or embarrassed, they are simply anxious about giving their absolute best performance. This can be likened to pre exam nerves or pre driving test anxiety.


The social phobic individual is not only anxious about a performance, they are fearful of it and one of the main reasons for the fear is the concern about embarrassment, and the fear of judgement from others, which the individual feels may make them appear look stupid or out of control. Quite often, individuals with social phobia are labelled ‘shy’, ‘timid’ or even ‘ride’ as a result of the way they behave when in a setting that causes them anxiety, and unfortunately, this only serves to exacerbate their condition. Being shy or timid differs from social phobia in that generally these types of personalities don’t tend to cause extreme anxiety, or severely limit the way they live their lives.


It is said to affect between 3% and 13% of the population and tends to manifest in early to mid teens. This makes social phobia the third largest mental health disorder. Within the general population, most sufferers of social phobia seem to fear public speaking and in our practice, public speaking is one of the more common conditions we help with.

There is also research to suggest that there are familial traits to social phobia, especially in first generation relatives.



According to the DSM IV publication, these are the criteria for diagnosing social phobia disorder:



A. A marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people, or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be humiliating or embarrassing. Note: In children, there must be evidence of the capacity for age-appropriate social relationships with familiar people and the anxiety must occur in peer settings, not just in interactions with adults.


B. Exposure to the feared social situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a situational bound or situation ally predisposed Panic Attack. Note:

In children, the anxiety may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or shrinking from social situations with unfamiliar people.


C. The person recognises that the fear is excessive or unreasonable. Note: In children, his feature may be absent.


D. The feared social or performance situations are avoided or else are endured with intense anxiety or distress.


E. The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in t he feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships, or there is marked distress about having the phobia.


F. In individuals under age 1B years, the duration is at least 6 months.


G. The fear or avoidance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance

(e.g., a drug of abuse. a medication) or a general medical condition and is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g. ., Panic Disorder With or Without Agoraphobia. Separation Anxiety Disorder, Body Dimorphic Disorder, a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, or Schizoid Personality Disorder).


H. If a general medical condition or another mental disorder is present, the fear in Criterion A is unrelated to it, e .g., the fear is not of Stuttering, trembling in Parkinson’s disease, or exhibiting abnormal eating behaviour in Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa.



Hypnotherapy for social phobia has become a popular choice for people afflicted with this disorder. It is a gentle and relaxing process and I have dealt with many cases, helping you to release this fear once and for all.

If you wan’t any further information please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.


There is some more useful information on social phobia here.



Evolution Hypnotherapy, 64 Shackleton Close, Old Hall, Warrington, Cheshire WA5 9QE –  0800 849 9494 – 01925 354 820

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/