Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) can affect people of any age; however, it typically emerges during early to middle adolescence.
Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as Social Phobia) is a condition in which people experience significant and sometimes paralyzing symptoms of anxiety in social situations, based on core deep fears related to evaluation and judgement by others. This anxiety and fear not only impedes an individual’s social life but also interferes with everyday activities, school, and professional life.
About 75% of SAD sufferers experience symptoms by age 13. SAD is influenced by the onset of puberty and associated hormones and physical changes, as well as the evolving and increasingly complex social networks and changes in the maturing teen brain.
Individuals with SAD are often socially inhibited and shy as young children and report a specific socially-humiliating experience prior to onset resulting in the avoidance of such experiences in the future.
The disorder is divided into the following two categories:
Generalized- symptoms are present in most social situations, and
Non-Generalized- symptoms are present in a select few social situations.
Children with this disorder may exhibit behaviors and traits such as crying, tantrums, clinging to familiar people, extreme shyness, refusing to speak in front of their class, and fear or timidity in unfamiliar settings and with unfamiliar people. Children diagnosed with SAD experience anxiety with their peers as well as with adults, but they do have the capacity to form social relationships with familiar people. SAD is harder to diagnose in children because they do not have the ability to describe the nature of their anxiety as effectively as adults. The disorder may therefore go unrecognized even though the child shows symptoms of the disorder. In children, Social Phobia may be intertwined with Separation Anxiety.
SAD typically emerges during adolescence in teens who have a history of a social inhibition. Females have 50% higher likelihood to be impacted than males. The lifetime prevalence of Social Anxiety Disorder is 13.6% in ages 18-29 and 6.9% for 17-18 demographic with 30% of annual cases classified as severe.