Like many other mental health conditions, social anxiety disorder likely arises from a complex interaction of environment and genes. Possible causes include:
Aug. 23, 2011
- Inherited traits. Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. However, it isn't entirely clear how much of this may be due to genetics and how much is due to learned behavior.
- Brain chemistry. Natural chemicals in your body may play a role in social anxiety disorder. For instance, an imbalance in the brain chemical serotonin (ser-oh-TOE-nin) may be a factor. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and emotions, among other things. People with social anxiety disorder may be extra-sensitive to the effects of serotonin.
- Brain structure. A structure in the brain called the amygdala (uh-MIG-duh-luh) may play a role in controlling the fear response. People who have an overactive amygdala may have a heightened fear response, causing increased anxiety in social situations.
- Negative experiences. Children who experience teasing, bullying, rejection, ridicule or humiliation may be more prone to social anxiety disorder. In addition, other negative events in life, such as family conflict or sexual abuse, may be associated with social anxiety disorder.
- Social phobia (social anxiety disorder). In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed June 11, 2011.
- Schneier FR. Social anxiety disorder: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 17, 2011.
- Hollander E, et al. Social phobia (social anxiety disorder). In: Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed June 11, 2011.
- Phobic disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec15/ch196/ch196e.html. Accessed June 17, 2011.
- Hofmann SG. Psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 17, 2011.
- Bruce TJ, et al. Pharmacotherapy for social anxiety disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 17, 2011.
- Lee RA. Anxiety disorders. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/154207005-3/0/1494/57.html?tocnode=54111716&fromURL=57.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2954-0..50014-4_229. Accessed June 10, 2011.
- Lakhan SE, et al. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: Systematic review. Nutrition Journal. 2010;9:42. http://www.nutritionj.com/content/9/1/42. Accessed June 17, 2011.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.