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Health Tip: Social Phobia

Being exposed to the fear may help you get over it

(HealthDayNews) -- If you have a persistent fear of being watched and judged by others, you might have a social phobia, also called social anxiety.

The disorder is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in daily social situations, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation, such as a fear of speaking to others or eating or drinking in front of others. In its most severe form, the disorder can be so broad that a person has symptoms whenever they are around other people.

Physical symptoms including blushing, profuse sweating and trembling can heighten the fear of disapproval; the symptoms themselves can become an additional focus of fear, creating a vicious cycle.

Treatments can involve antidepressant drugs and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy, in which people gradually become more comfortable with situations that frighten them by being exposed to those situations and learning ways to deal with them.

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