Mental health professionals often distinguish between generalized social phobia and specific social phobia. People with generalized social phobia have great distress in a wide range of social situations. Those with specific social phobia may experience anxiety only in a few situations. The term "specific social phobia" may also refer to specific forms of non-clinical social anxiety.
The most common symptoms of specific social phobia are glossophobia, the fear of public speaking and the fear of performance, known as stage fright. Other examples of specific social phobia include fears of writing or eating in public, using public restrooms (paruresis), attending social gatherings, and dealing with authority figures.
Specific social phobia may be classified into performance fears and interaction fears, i.e., fears of acting in a social setting and interacting with other people, respectively. The cause of social phobia is not definite. Symptoms of social phobia can occur in late adolescence when youths highly value the impressions they give off to their peers. Clinical experience of the prognosis of social phobia shows that it can prolong for many years but that it improves by mid life. Treatment of social phobia includes antidepressant medication. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as sertraline, fluvoxamine and paroxetine are common medications which alleviate social phobia successfully in the short term but it is not certain if they are useful in the long-term. Also the MAOI moclobemide works well on treating social phobia in the short term. Patients who have avoided certain situations should make a big effort to become exposed to these situations while at the same time taking antidepressant medication. Anxiolytic medication aids a patient to handle social or professional situations before more lasting treatment has had an effect and therefore it is a provider of short term relief . The risk of dependence of anxiolytics should be noted. Beta-adrenergic antagonists help to control palpitations and tremors unresponsive to the treatment of anxiolytic medication. One must read the precautions of these drugs outlined in the manufacturer's literature and be careful to watch out for the contraindications of these drugs.
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