Social phobia is also called social anxiety disorder. The main symptom of this psychological condition is extreme fear of exposing oneself to social situations or even fear of thinking about situations where a person will be surrounded by other people. That includes fear of every kind of evaluation by other people, so the sufferer would try as hard as he can to avoid situations that can lead to that. If you suffer from social anxiety disorder, you probably know that your fear is not rational but you cannot stop feeling it. Social phobia causes fear, but only in particular situations. Intense fear can occur when going out to a party, eating outside or speaking with people you do not know. Social phobia very often includes fear of public speaking. Generalized social anxiety disorder includes anxious feelings while surrounded by other people.
Mild anxiety in social situations is not the sign that you suffer from social phobia or social anxiety disorder. There are people who are sometimes shy, but that does not affect their lives and their usual activities. Unlike this, social anxiety disorder causes extreme stress and it can change the lifestyle of the sufferer.
The main symptoms of this disorder are: great concern about the social situation that is coming, fear of other people watching or judging the sufferer, extreme anxiety occurring in social situations every day, fear that you will behave in an improper manner, fear that other people will see that you are anxious, and keeping away from social situations.
Medication can help with the symptoms of social phobia and anxiety but they cannot cure this problem. Psychotherapy is used to resolve the problems that are causing social anxiety. The best solution is to take medication and go to psychotherapy at the same time. Medications that are used in resolving this state are antidepressants (Zoloft, Effexor and Paxil), benzodiazepines and beta-blockers (they stop adrenaline flow and reduce physical symptoms, but not the emotional ones).
The best therapy choice is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Its main idea is that your thoughts affect your feelings and vice versa. That means that you will have to change your negative thoughts about social situations in order to stop negative feelings that occur in these situations. In CBT you learn how to relax and breathe properly, then how to replace your dysfunctional thoughts with more functional, and you learn how to stay in the social situation and not to run away from it. There is also a group therapy that can be helpful in treating social anxiety disorder.