(Research Paper – by Adrienne Wardy – Bryn Mawr College)   “Social anxiety disorder is the third most common psychiatric disorder, after depression and alcoholism.”

A persistent fear of social situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others… anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social situation(s) interferes significantly with the person’s normal routine.

Although those who suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD) are often perceived as shy, their condition is much more extreme than shyness. Unlike shyness, it is not simply a personality trait; it is a persistent fear that must have deeper roots than environmental causes.”


“…irritable infants… become shy, fearful and behaviorally inhibited as toddlers… then remain cautious, quiet, and introverted in early school years.  In adolescence, they had a much higher than expected rate of social anxiety disorder.

…a common physiological trait in these particular children:  they all had a high resting heart rate, which rose even higher when the child was faced with stress… this physiological trait suggests the biological causes of SAD.”

“…anxiety disorders run in families… if one identical twin has an anxiety disorder, the second twin is likely to have an anxiety disorder as well, which suggests that genetics – possibly in combination with life experiences – makes some people more susceptible to these illnesses.

…anxiety is also apparent in the animal kingdom, which suggests that it is not simply the result of nurturing, it is an inherent attribute… Isaac Marks found that birds avoided prey that had… eye-like markings on… such as moths… birds feel scrutinized by the gaze of another animal and thus avoid the “eyes,” much like humans with social anxiety avoid situations in which they feel scrutinized or avoid eye-contact.”


“Research shows that “dysregulation of neurotransmitter function in the brain is thought to play a key role in social phobia.  Specifically dopamine, serotonin, and GABA dysfunction are hypothesized in most cases of moderate to severe SP.”