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What Causes Social Anxiety

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Social anxiety is a pervasive disorder characterized by an extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situation. Also known as social phobia, this disorder can negatively interfere with a person's daily routine, including school, work, relationships and social activities. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 15 million American adults have social anxiety disorder, with the typical age of onset being 13 years. Moreover, 36 percent of people with social anxiety report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.

Though social phobia is said to run in families, the role of stress and environment cannot be denied. No one knows for sure why some people have it while others don't, but a patient can learn to be comfortable in social situations and reclaim his or her life. Social anxiety is actually a very common problem, in which people experience extreme distress over day-to-day activities and may even find themselves overwhelmed by fearful thoughts.
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According to a study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), released in 2016, genetic factors play an important role in causing social anxiety over a long term, while environmental factors are believed to trigger the condition in the short term.

The researchers at the NIPH observed nearly 3,000 Norwegian twins for over a decade to find out the extent to which the disorder is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. They interviewed the participants twice - once when they were in their 20s and again when they were in their 30s. The results revealed that social anxiety disorder affected just 4 percent of participants in their 20s, with 10 percent displaying the type of symptoms not qualified for diagnosis. However, after 10 years, 5 percent of participants were found to have a full-blown social anxiety and fewer than 9 percent of them exhibited just the disease
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