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Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by intense fear in social situations causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some parts of daily life. While the fear of social interaction may be recognized by the person as excessive or unreasonable, overcoming it can be quite difficult.
Physical symptoms often accompanying social anxiety disorder include excessive blushing, sweating (hyperhidrosis), trembling, palpitations, nausea, and stammering often accompanied with rapid speech. Panic attacks may also occur under intense fear and discomfort.
An early diagnosis may help minimize the symptoms and the development of additional problems, such as depression. Some sufferers may use alcohol or other drugs to reduce fears and inhibitions at social events. It is common for sufferers of social phobia to self-medicate in this fashion, especially if they are undiagnosed, untreated, or both; this can lead to alcoholism, eating disorders or other kinds of substance abuse.
SAD is sometimes referred to as an 'illness of lost opportunities'
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