What is Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) 

What is SAD?

SAD is characterized by high levels of anxiety and fear in various public situations, performance situations and personal interactions with other people. Examples include: fear of public speaking, using a public restroom, making conversation with a person you have just met and eating in public. The symptoms cause a great deal of distress and interfere with personal, occupational or other daily functioning and activities.


What are the symptoms of SAD?

The symptoms may range from a low-level pervasive and generalized discomfort to panic and overwhelming anxiety. These symptoms occur due to various or specific social situations. Some common bodily reactions include: an increased heart rate, dry mouth, rapid or shallow breathing, shortness of breath, dizziness and sweating.  The most common thought based symptoms are: fear of embarrassment and being negatively evaluated. 


Is SAD just extreme shyness?

No. Shyness may cause distress, but SAD causes significantly more distress than a person is able to cope with; this then interferes with their daily lives. SAD causes impairment in a person’s capacity and ability to form meaningful relationships, carry out certain daily activities or significantly impacts on their work performance.


How do I know I have SAD?

If you have any of the above symptoms or feel that you may have great difficulty in social situations, you should make an appointment with a psychiatrist or a psychologist who knows how to treat SAD. A diagnosis needs to be made by a professional. 

 This study is being conducted through the University Stellenbosch department of Psychiatry (Ethics number N09/09/226, and ethics committee for human research contact telephone number: 021-938 9207)