Social anxiety depression disorder

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Social anxiety is a persistent and intense fear of being judged in social situations and the disorder causes depression and a sense of embarrassment. In this type of anxiety disorder, the affected individuals have the constant fear and anxiety of being observed, scrutinized, evaluated and judged.

This social anxiety depression disorder causes feelings of inferiority, self-blame, nonperformance, incompetence, ineffectiveness, ineptness and unfitness and leads to mental depression. This disorder and related depression has become a common behavioral problem.

Millions of people all over the world are going through this agonising psychological trauma of this disorder and related depression every day. Epidemiological studies have shown that 7-8% of the population of the United States suffer from some form of social anxiety. It is the third largest psychological disorder in the country.

The causes of the social anxiety depression disorder and depression may be generalized or specific to certain situations. In the generalized form all life situations can give rise to anxiety. The affected people may experience psychological stress at one or many of the following situations.

  • Requiring to make a speech
  • On being introduced to people
  • On being criticized
  • Discomfort with co-travellers
  • Eating or drinking in front of others
  • Becoming a center of attraction
  • Doing something when somebody is looking on
  • The thought that somebody is observing
  • Meeting people considered very important
  • Requiring to lead a group

The anxiety depression disorder causes manifestation of many physical symptoms like, stuttering, trembling, nausea, urge to use toilet, racing heart, sweating, stammering or rapid speech, blushing and muscle twitches.

Behavioral symptoms caused by depression are cognitive distortions, excessive social avoidance, avoidance behaviors, compulsive lying behavior, avoidance of eye contact, fight-or-flight response and cringing.

Though the affected persons know that their behavior is irrational and abnormal, they are unable to overcome the thoughts and feelings of anxiety and connected depression.

Possible causes of social anxiety disorder

  • Causes of social anxiety are wide-ranging and the onset is typically between 10 to 13 years.
  • The most common cause is emotional or physical abuse by peers or parents in the young age.
  • There may be a genetic cause, as a child has greater chances for developing anxiety disorder if one of the immediate family member is affected.
  • The genetic association as one of the causes is further strengthened by studies of twins adopted into different families. If one of them developed social anxiety disorder, the other child has 30-50% chances for developing the condition.
  • If a family member is affected, a child may acquiring anxiety depression through the processes of observational learning.
  • Insecure attachment with their mother as infants can cause children developing the condition in their adolescence.
  • ‘Behavioural inhibition’ in infants can cause them to have inhibited or fearful nature as they grow up.
  • Negative social experiences of self and observed or heard negative experiences of others may have a negative impact and lead to anxiety depression.
  • Excessive use of other’s opinions and also shame as a disciplinary strategy by the parents can affect a child.
  • Living in thinly populated places reduces social contacts and this can cause behavioral problems.
  • Some studies have related these conditions are caused by hyperactivity in some areas of the brain and also imbalances in some neurochemicals.

Treatment for social anxiety depression

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is found to be very effective in treating social anxiety and related depression. Getting over anxiety problems is very difficult, but not impossible. Many people have overcome it. A psychologist who investigates and understands the individual situations of his patients can help them to get over it.

Along with cognitive behavior therapy, antidepressants may be prescribed to overcome depression. Untreated social anxiety can cause related psychological disorders like, major depressive disorder (MDD), Personality disorders, alcohol dependence, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating and substance abuse.

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Research reference:
1. Franklin R. Schneier, M.D., Anissa Abi-Dargham, M.D., Diana Martinez, M.D., Mark Slifstein, Ph.D., Dah-Ren Hwang, Ph.D., Michael R. Liebowitz, M.D., and Marc Laruelle, M.D. (2009). “Dopamine Transporters, D2 Receptors, and Dopamine Release in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder”. Depression and Anxiety. 2009; 26(5): 411–418.

Current topic in Nutrition, Health & Wellness:
Causes of social anxiety disorder – Social anxiety depression.