Social phobia is an intense fear of performing in front of people or other social situations where the child or teen feels embarrassed, humiliated or the focus of more attention than he or she wants. Children and teens who suffer from social phobia constantly fear looking foolish or stupid in front of other children and teens or in front of adults. They will avoid social situations or will enter social situations with extreme anxiety, nervousness and stress. Children and teens with social phobia often have few or no friends and participate in very few social activities.
Social phobia is different from shyness. Shy children can be uneasy and quiet around others, but they do not necessarily avoid situations that make them feel uncomfortable. Also, after a short period, shy children usually feel more comfortable. By comparison, social phobia disrupts a child’s or teen’s life by making it difficult to deal with school or social relationships. Symptoms must be present for at least six months for a child to be diagnosed with social phobia.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Providers Who Treat Social Phobia
Departments that Treat Social Phobia
Anxiety Disorders Program
The Anxiety Disorders Program at Children's National Hospital is a specialized treatment clinic devoted to carefully assessing and effectively treating a wide range of anxiety disorders common among children and adolescents.
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Children's National offers assessment, diagnosis and care for children and teens with behavioral, emotional and developmental disorders.
Psychology and Behavioral Health
In the Division of Psychology and Behavioral Health, our child psychologists and other mental health professionals work exclusively with children and teens, emphasizing patient and family-focused care.