What is social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder which most often begins to manifest in late childhood or adolescence. Social anxiety disorder is relatively poorly diagnosed, as it - by its very nature – keeps those affected away from professional help. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 3% of the general population suffers from this disorder every year. Lifetime prevalence is about 13%.

Individuals suffering from this unpleasant mental health disorder avoid social situations such as family celebrations, business meetings or social happenings due to excessive fear of negative evaluation.

Avoidant behavior is the most prominent mechanism that maintains this disorder. Although avoiding a social event can decrease anxiety in a short run, in the long-term social fear only increases.

Social anxiety disorder is usually associated with a low self-esteem and great fear of criticism or failure. In general, affected individuals achieve lower levels of education than expected, are more prone to a single lifestyle without a partner and tend to have a lower income. More than 20% of those affected are financially dependent on a disability pension or other type of social benefits.

What are the causes of social anxiety disorder?

Similar to other anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder is caused by a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors. Possible causes include genetics, as anxiety disorders tend to be passed on from generation to generation. Brain functioning is involved in the development of this disorder, too. Individuals with hyperactive brain area called the amygdala can interpret social situations as more threatening than a healthy part of the population. Furthermore, learned behavior is another possible cause, as some people may develop social anxiety disorder after experiencing unpleasant or embarrassing social situations. Clinical findings suggest a link between social anxiety and parents who either show anxiety behavior in social situations or tend to have more control over their children or overly try to protect them.

How to reduce social anxiety?

At VIRTUO, we offer our clients a quick relief from their social anxiety. We use the most effective methods supported by years of research and practice. By providing information about important processes in the human body and engaging innovative technology of virtual reality, we will help you enjoy your everyday life after just a few sessions.

An important step on your new path to health is to realize that all physiological and psychological reactions in your body follow certain patterns. These patterns can be changed positively. Avoidant behavior is a habit that can be unlearned, too. In addition, you will acquire effective strategies that help you respond more calmly during unpleasant situations. Over the course of your sessions at VIRTUO, you gradually learn that anxiety-provoking situations are less dangerous than what they seem.

Findings from scientific research confirm that the sooner the affected individuals begin treatment, the more likely they are to get rid of this condition permanently.

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