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Merck Manual

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Quick Facts

Social Anxiety Disorder in Children and Adolescents

(Social Phobia)


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Nov 2020| Content last modified Nov 2020
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What is social anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is being worried, scared, or nervous. Lots of people, including children, are anxious in social situations, for example, when they have to speak in class or talk to strangers at a party.

In social anxiety disorder:

  • Fear of being embarrassed and judged by other people is so strong that it interferes with the child's life

Children and teens with social anxiety disorder commonly:

  • Worry they'll be made fun of for giving a wrong answer or saying something silly

  • Think they'll be embarrassed by how anxious they seem, such as by blushing or sweating, when people are watching

  • Freeze up, withdraw, or cry when they have to be around people they don’t know

  • Cling to their parents

  • Sometimes, refuse to go to school or social events or even leave their house

Some children also get physical symptoms right before they have to go to school or a social event:

  • Stomach ache or headache

  • Sometimes, throw up from worry and the fear of embarrassing themselves

How do doctors treat social anxiety disorder in children?

Doctors treat social anxiety disorder with:

  • Behavior therapy

  • Medicines for some children

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