Over the last few decades recognition of social anxiety disorder has grown rapidly. No longer is it seen as just a case of someone being over sensitive, too shy or introverted, but a recognised and diagnosable condition. But as with all anxiety disorders, it can be difficult to test for social phobia without clear guidance from a doctor or a psychiatrist.
It’s not like having a fever, when you can just check someone’s temperature or their physical symptoms. What’s more, social anxiety disorder can be a complex condition, with symptoms that can very in severity dramatically between individuals. Some people might just prefer to avoid going to parties and speaking in front of people they don’t know, while others might struggle to leave their house altogether due to the fear of negative stares.
Thankfully, a social anxiety disorder test was devised by Dr Michael R. Liebowitz, a psychiatrist and researcher at Columbia University, New York. First devised in 1987, his social anxiety disorder test continues to be the most widely used and recognised method of diagnosing the condition. Studies have shown it to be an efficient and cost effective way for people to test for social anxiety disorder so they can then progress towards beginning a process of treating the inaccurate, underlying thoughts that drive it.
What is the social anxiety disorder test?
The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Disorder Test consists of 24 questions designed to assess the scale at which social phobia affects your life based on an overall score of its severity. Thirteen of the questions focus on performance related anxiety, such as speaking on a phone in public or talking to someone in authority, while eleven deal with social situations, such as going to a party or speaking in a meeting.
After completing all the questions you are then given a score out of 144. If your score is high, and you are classified in the more severe categories, the important thing is to not feel down and depressed. The fact is that, as with all diagnosable conditions, social anxiety disorder can be treated.
With a diagnosis comes treatment
If you think you might be suffering from social anxiety disorder, the wisest thing to do is to visit a medical professional, whether it’s a doctor or a psychotherapist. They can give you a professional diagnosis along with advice on the best course of action to reduce your symptoms to the level where social anxiety disorder no longer gets in the way of living a fulfilling life.
If your social anxiety is fairly mild, it could be that all you may need to do is to start making some lifestyle changes, such as taking up new hobbies that give you a sense of achievement and boost your esteem as well as provide you with healthier interactions with other people. In more severe cases, where social anxiety disorder is causing you to feel depressed and is adversely affecting your life, then seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist along with a course of medication might be advisable.
So it’s wise to consult a medical professional, whether it’s a doctor or a psychiatrist, for a diagnosis and advice if your anxious thoughts and feelings are getting in the way of your ability to enjoy a happy, fulfilling life.