This research paper provides a literature review of social anxiety disorder among teenagers. In-depth research has been carried out on social anxiety disorder etiology and progression of the disorder, symptoms, prevalence, co-morbidity, a method of intervention (therapy), treatment and prognosis, and how it affects patients, families, and society. A critical analysis of the literature review shows that social anxiety disorder is an impairing disorder thus requiring both psysiological and medical treatment for effective results. The risk factors of the disorder are genetic factors, biological factors, neurological factors, and parental factors. Its symptoms include excessive fear, negative self evaluation, worry, and behavioral avoidance. Research has shown that this disorder is more prevalent in girls than boys. If diagnosed, social anxiety disorder can be treated by both physiological therapies and medical treatments which must be go together for effective results.
Social anxiety disorder is one of the most debated anxiety disorders in psychology studies over the years because of its increasing prevalence among teenagers. Social anxiety disorder also known as social phobia is a persistent anxiety or fear of social situations way beyond the actual threat exposed by the situation (Turner, Beidel & Borden, 2001). These social situations are anxiety provoking thus resulting into fear among the individual. Some of the anxiety provoking situations include public speaking, being seen in public, eating while being observed, chatting with authoritative figures, starting conversations, talking in groups or teams, and meeting strangers (Fehm & Pelissolo, 2005).
Teenagers with social anxiety disorder tend to exhibit fear and anxiety when exposed to some of these social situations or performances. If these teenagers are at the center of attention, their anxiety is induced and in many cases, they tend to withdraw from these situations. The people with this disorder worry excessively before, during and after experiencing these situations because of the fear or worry that they might say or act something embarrassing or humiliating for instance, looking anxious, disrupting normal life, looking incompetent, shaking, sweating, and blushing(Beidel et al, 2007). As a result, the performance of the individual declines for instance, if in a work place, the individual functioning is impacted negatively. If at school, social anxiety disorder impairs their learning and at home, the quality of life and social relationship is impacted negatively because of the disruption of normal quality life (Baron & Kenny, 2006).
Majority of the teenagers with social anxiety disorder tend to misuse drugs and alcohol so as to alleviate depression and also reduce their anxiety. They also experience difficulties in getting employment and getting involved in marriages. In school, these teenagers have educational underachievement and this is according to a research in US which shows that 91 percent of teenagers with social anxiety disorder lack academic advancement because of the social phobic fears they have developed. That said; social anxiety disorder is an impairing disorder thus requiring a method of intervention (therapy), treatment and prognosis (Asher, Hymel & Renshaw, 2004).
Etiology refers to the risk factors of the disorder. Social anxiety disorder has several risk factors which include genetic factors, neurobiological factors, biological factors, temperament, and parent factors. The most common risk factor is genetic factors. Research by kindler, Myers & Neale, (2001) on male twin pairs shows that there is a genetic component unique to social anxiety disorder with 13 percent of social fears being accounted for genetic components. This implies that teenagers with social anxiety disorder share a unique genetic encumbrance hence influencing for social fears. The same research has shown that there is a heritability estimate of 0.65 for social anxiety. Ollendick & Hirshfeld (2002) concur with the same findings by reporting estimates of 0.5 percent heritability estimate of social anxiety.
Neurological factors have also contributed to the prevalence of social anxiety disorder among teenagers. Research shows that when people are afraid, neurological techniques such as fMRI and PET result into increased amygdale (this is a set of neurons in the brain) which result into fear. Some people have more amygdale than others hence the differences in social fear. The other factor is temperament which is behavior inhibition found in teenagers and children with social anxiety disorder. Fearfulness, cautiousness, and avoidance behavior are typical behaviors witnessed in people with behavior inhibition. These people activate amygdale faster thus resulting into social fear (Kendler et al, 2001). As regards biological factors, research has shown that teenagers with social anxiety disorder have higher physiological arousal and anxiety sensitivity. Parental factors have also contributed to the high prevalence of social anxiety disorders. Research has shown that there is a reciprocal relationship between child and parent behavior as regards social anxiety (Tillfors et al, 2001). Anxious children have higher chances of having anxious parents and their behaviors are characterized with avoidance and anxiety. Due to the genetic makeup, a parent with a social anxiety disorder is more likely to have an offspring with social anxiety disorder. This is according to a research by Merikangas & Avenevoli (2000) who found that the risk for anxiety disorder in the offspring of a parent with the anxiety disorder is 3.5 times that of a non-anxious parent.
Social anxiety disorder is characterized with fear of social situations implying that teenagers when exposed to social situations such as public speaking develop physical symptoms such as trembling and blushing and this will have an impact on their performance. They also develop cognitive symptoms such as negative self evaluation, worry, and behavioral avoidance. For instance, in group meeting, teenagers with social anxiety disorder will less evaluate themselves and in many cases, they do not get actively involved in decision making and this will always have an impact on their performance. They develop fear to speak in groups and in meeting implying that their decisions might not be considered. They also develop behavioral avoidance whereby they do not mingle with others if in a workplace or at school (Adams et al, 2008).
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- Patrick Kimuyu (Author), 2017, Review on Social Anxiety Disorder among Teenagers, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/384368