According to U. S. government researchers “social phobia” is a legitimate psychiatric disorder that affects a small percent of adolescents. The study was based on a large U.S. national survey done by the National Institute of Mental Health. Researchers surveyed more than 10,000 teens between 13 and 18 years of age, half of which stated they were shy to some degree. Of thoseshy children, 12 percent were thought to have social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder.
It’s important to note that among youth who did not identify themselves as shy, about 5 percent met criteria for social phobia. This suggests that social phobia and shyness are not necessarily directly related. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, social phobia is the “persistent, intense and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions.” Children with social phobia may avoid school, group activities such as team sports, as well as social settings.
The study also found that teens who suffered from social phobia were more likely to suffer from depression have behavioural problems and abuse drugs at some point in their lifetime, but that many teens with social phobia could be helped through education, talk therapy and, in some cases, anti-depressants.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health website