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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Painfully Shy or Social Anxiety Disorder

12/30/2004

Question:

My son shuts down when in a social situation,avoidsinner acting with other students,gets all red faced and seems embaristed when approched by another person.This has affected my son big time in school. I am not sure what is going on but i do realise we need to get help.The question is what kind of help. I appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks.

Answer:

These symptoms are all part of a well recognized anxiety disorder called Social Anxiety Disorder.  This disorder is an extreme version of "shyness" and can last a lifetime without proper treatment.  Treatment usually consists of cognitive behavioral therapy and in some cases antidepressant medications which are extremely effective in social anxiety disorder.  You neglected to mention the age of your son but the younger the child, the easier the intervention and the better the outcome.  There are many experts around the country in this disorder in children, one is Bob Ammerman, Ph.D. at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital, another is Dr. Debra Biedel at the University of Maryland.  Depending upon where you live, I would ask your Doctor for a referral for a local expert.

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati