Friday, February 16, 2007

Where does social anxiety disorder come from?

There are a number of factors that cause social anxiety disorders. Let’s consider them in brief.

Genetics. Researches have proved that there’s a risk of having social anxiety disorder if a first-degree relative also has it. I can be possible either because of parental influence and psychological education, or because of genetics. Thus, if a parent has any kind of social anxiety disorder, then a child is more likely to develop it.

Brain. Patients suffering from social fears and anxieties often have a hypersensitive amygdala, in relation to negative social reaction towards themselves (angry cues and faces, hostility, threat, etc.) Studies have showed that the brain area known as Anterior Cingulate Cortex is responsible for experience of the so called social pain. This are was already considered to be involved in the experience of physical pain. Speaking about social anxiety disorder in neurochemical terms, some scholars believe that it is somehow related to an imbalance of the brain chemical and serotonindopamine neurotransmission. The efficiency of drugs that affect serotonin and dopamine levels also indicates the role of them in the onset and development of the disorder.

Social experience. A previous negative social experience can also lead to social anxiety disorder. Studies have shown that a certain traumatic or humiliating social event is commonly connected with the onset or worsening of the disorder. It may be also be developed due to the longer-term effects of being rejected, bullied, ignored and looked down. Observing or hearing about the socially negative experiences of others or verbal warnings of social problems and dangers may also trigger social anxiety disorder.

Social and cultural causes. They include a society's attitude towards shyness and avoidance, impacting ability to form relationships or access employment or education. Problems in developing social skills may also lead to social anxiety disorder through inability or lack of confidence to successfully interact socially and gain positive attitude from others. Also demographic variables may matter - there are possibly lower rates of social anxiety disorder in Mediterranean countries and higher rates in Scandinavian countries.

Evolutionary factor. Some scholars are apt to suppose that predispositions to social fears and anxieties in human environment have been evolving in course of time. In other words, humanity accommodates itself to the environment where it exists and develops. It is believed that in modern society these socioanxious tendencies have become more evident and resulted in some of the cognitive distortions and irrationalities.