Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder defines an overwhelming, long-lasting fear triggered by social situations. It is also sometimes known as social phobia. Many people worry about social situations but having social anxiety disorder results in you feeling exceedingly worried before, during and after the event, disproportionate to the level of worry necessary for the situation.

Overview

Social anxiety disorder defines an overwhelming, long-lasting fear triggered by social situations. It is also sometimes known as social phobia. Many people worry about social situations but having social anxiety disorder results in you feeling exceedingly worried before, during and after the event, disproportionate to the level of worry necessary for the situation.

Causes & Symptoms

Causes & Risk factors of Social Anxiety Disorder

As with other mental health conditions, social anxiety disorder is likely to be caused by several biological, psychological and environmental factors and an interaction between these.

Risk factors for development of social anxiety disorder include: 

  • Genetic vulnerability: sometimes illustrated in family history of social anxiety, or other mental health disorders
  • Structural abnormalities in the brain associated with the fear response. Over-activation may lead to a heightened fear response, causing increased anxiety in social situations
  • Issues in brain processes involved in reading others’ behaviour
  • Experience of parents who are either anxious themselves in social situations or are controlling or overprotective
  • Underdeveloped social skills
  • Shy, timid or withdrawn temperament
  • Experience of an unpleasant or embarrassing social situation, including rejection
  • Experience of trauma, including abuse and bullying
  • New social or occupational demands
  • An appearance or condition that is likely to draw attention (e.g. facial disfigurement or tremors)
  • Experience of bullying
  • Experience of conflict

 

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is more than being shy. It is an intense enduring fear that impacts day to day activities, self-confidence, relationships and work or school life.

Symptoms of social anxiety disorder are grouped into two types: physical and psychological.

Physical:
 

  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Heart palpitations
  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Tense or achy muscles
  • Panic Attacks
     

Behavioural / Psychological:
 

  • A feeling of dread in relation to everyday activities (e.g. meeting strangers or speaking on the phone)
  • Avoidance of social activities or interactions
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of criticism or judgement
  • Finding it difficult to do activities if others are watching
  • Lack of clarity in thoughts
  • Often feeling like you are being watched and judged
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Low self-esteem
  • Emotional hypersensitivity, particularly to judgement or criticism
  • Alcohol consumption prior to social interaction
  • Stammer
  • Highly critical of self

Treatments

The treatments and support we provide

We provide a very comprehensive and holistic range of interventions and support. This means we are able to find the mechanisms for recovery, which will be different for each patient. Everyone will have a highly personalised treatment programme. 

The programme is reviewed every week by the patient’s multi-disciplinary team (MDT), encompassing the different professionals involved in their care. Our MDT consists of: consultant psychiatrist, psychotherapist/psychologist, family therapist and occupational therapist. The MDT is at the centre of our approach, ensuring all the progress made across the programme is understood, built upon and applied. Our model provides consistency and continuity. 

Individual programmes are tailor-made to each patient’s needs and progress. The following provides a guide to the typical building blocks of our day treatment programmes, all of which include a number of weekly 1:1 sessions with members of the MDT.

  Full-day Programme Half-Day Programme
Days  Monday to Friday Monday to Friday
Hours 7 - 8 hours per day 4 - 5 hours per day
Programme length Up to 4 weeks Up to 4 weeks
Detailed group therapy 5 - 6 sessions 3 - 4 sessions
Daily meals Lunch/snacks Lunch/snacks

We provide the following therapies and interventions. These may be delivered on a 1:1 or group basis by members of the MDT.

Psycho-education Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) Mindfulness
Relapse prevention Self-esteem / resilience  Movement
Peer Led Support Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Food preparation / cooking
Applied relaxation Art / drama Interpersonal therapy
Social issues Family therapy Schema

Treatments are available at the following locations

Schoen Clinic Chelsea

Our Address
Schoen Clinic
Centre for Mental Health Chelsea
13a Radnor Walk
Chelsea
London SW3 4BP
General Telephone Enquiries
0203 146 2300
Specialist Areas
Anorexia Nervosa Binge Eating Disorder Bulimia Nervosa Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) +7 More

Specialists

Dr James Woolley

Consultant Psychiatrist BSc(Hons) MBBS MRCP MRCPsych PGDip (CBT)

Depression
Anxiety Disorders (health, social, generalised)
17 More ...
Depression
Anxiety Disorders (health, social, generalised)
Panic Disorder (with and without agoraphobia)
Obsessive compulsive disorder Bipolar disorder
15 More ...
Full Profile
Dr Samantha Cobb

Counselling Psychologist DPsych CPsychol

Adjustment Disorders
Anger Management
19 More ...
Adjustment Disorders
Anger Management
Anxiety Disorders (health, social, generalised)
Bipolar Disorder
17 More ...
Full Profile
Dr Niraj Arora

Consultant Psychiatrist

Depression
Anxiety
11 More ...
Depression
Anxiety
Stress related illness
Mood instability
9 More ...
Full Profile
Dr Werner Kierski

Psychotherapist DProf. MA, MBACP (Snr. Accred.), ISST

Personality disorder
Mood disorders
16 More ...
Personality disorder
Mood disorders
Depression
Anxiety
14 More ...
Full Profile