Most people will be familiar with the anxious feelings that precede a presentation or a job interview.  Performance anxiety (a form of social anxiety disorder) generally serves the purpose to prepare you for the highest performance possible.  In fact most experienced performers feel concerned if they do not experience any anxiety as this can lead to a flat and dull performance.

However for many this anxiety is more than ‘butterflies in the stomach’.  Their reaction is so debilitating that they become paralyzed by fear, unable to speak or think clearly. This is the more severe social anxiety disorder (SAD) or social phobia.  For someone with social anxiety disorder they may even go to the extent of refusing a well earned promotion at work if there is any likelihood of having to do a presentation at any time.  Even non-threatening situations such as ordering food in a restaurant can bring on an attack.

Social anxiety disorder sufferers fear that all attention is on them and are terrified they will do something embarrassing or humiliating.  Although they realize that this fear of negative judgment is extreme and unreasonable they cannot help it.  They fear that everyone is better than them and that everyone will see their flaws. These fears may or may not cause panic attacks, but they always cause intense anxiety. Anxiety may lead to anxiety attack symptoms of shaking, a pounding heart, blushing, sweating, stammering, nausea, and dizziness.

Shyness is not the same as social anxiety disorder.  Social anxiety disorder is physically debilitating to the person experiencing it and may take over a person’s life if left untreated. The cause of this disorder is not known but often starts in childhood or early adulthood and can affect everyone, regardless of race, religion, or gender -- although women are more prone to developing this disorder than men.

So how common is social anxiety disorder?  Well, it is one of the most common disorders today, affecting 15 million in America alone. In fact many people with anxiety and panic disorders also suffer from social anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder is often disruptive of family life and can cause lowered self esteem.  It can be selective and easily hidden, for example a salesperson that cannot make phone calls but in other situations is quite normal.

Unfortunately, it is also common for a person with social anxiety disorder to try to treat it using drugs or alcohol, which will in turn lead to substance abuse. The best course of action is to first see your doctor. Therapy and medication can help you work through this disorder so that you can live a healthy and socially active life.

Medications can be short or long-term can work to block certain inhibitors.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy which is based on the Cognitive Model of Emotion bases therapy on the idea that our thoughts cause our feeling and behaviors, not external things.  By changing the way we think we can change the way we feel even though the situation has not changed.

Jon Mercer, acclaimed personal development coach, has developed a radical new method: The Social Strategies.  Jon shows how he destroyed his social anxiety by playing games!  He was a sufferer for many years of severe social problemswith the label of social phobia, social anxiety disorder, performance anxiety or what some called acute shyness.  Whatever name you give your disorder this method is fun and has helped many around the world.