Coping With Anxiety

Coping With Anxiety

Know how to spot and code social anxiety disorder.

We’ve all felt nervous in social situations from time to time — that important job interview, mingling at parties, speaking in public. But for some, being nervous or self-conscious in social situations is more than just occasional uneasiness or shyness. Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) is a chronic mental health condition that causes significant fear and anxiety in social situations, which can affect relationships and alter daily routines and activities.

The holiday season can exacerbate this already challenging disorder as people are expected to attend work parties, family holiday celebrations, and gatherings with friends. For improved coding, learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder.

What to Look For

When anxiety interferes with everyday functioning and keeps a person from living their life, it becomes a disorder. Recognizing the signs and symptoms can help determine when normal social discomfort has turned to phobia.

Emotional and behavioral symptoms:

  • Fear of being watched or judged negatively by others
  • Avoidance of doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
  • Avoidance of situations in which the person might be the center of attention
  • Worry about embarrassing or humiliating oneself
  • Intense worry in the days and weeks leading up to an activity or event
  • Hiding in the background in a social setting to escape notice
  • Expectation of the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation

Physical signs:

  • Upset stomach
  • Sweating or blushing
  • Trembling
  • Racing heart 
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to catch breath
  • Muscle tension

Risk Factors

According to the Mayo Clinic, several factors can increase the risk of developing social anxiety disorder, including:

  • Family history: A person is more likely to develop social anxiety disorder if their biological parents or siblings have the condition.
  • 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, trauma, or abuse, may be associated with this disorder.
  • Temperament: Children who are shy, timid, withdrawn, or restrained when facing new situations or people may be at greater risk.
  • New social or work demands: Social anxiety disorder symptoms typically start in the early teenage years, but meeting new people, giving a speech in public, or making an important work presentation may trigger symptoms for the first time.
  • Having an appearance or condition that draws attention: For example, facial disfigurement can increase feelings of self-consciousness and may trigger social anxiety disorder in some people.

Combatting the Problem

There are many ways people can combat social phobia on their own, such as challenging their own negative thoughts and resisting the impulse to blow things out of proportion or assume they know what others are thinking. But when self-help techniques fail and avoidance of social situations continues, it is time to consult a healthcare professional.

A doctor should first rule out any medical conditions that may be causing the anxiety. Once medical conditions are ruled out and social anxiety disorder has been diagnosed, there are two treatment routes: psychotherapy (sometimes called talk therapy) and medication.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective psychotherapy used in treating social anxiety disorder. CBT teaches specific skills to directly manage fears and anxieties in addition to practicing social skills. It may involve breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to help control physical symptoms, as well as role-playing and other action and observation techniques meant to help people face the social situations they fear. Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or beta-blockers can also be used to help relieve anxiety and are most effective when used in conjunction with therapy.

Coding Social Anxiety Disorder

ICD-10-CM codes for social phobia fall under category F40 Phobic anxiety disorders. Since social anxiety disorder is considered a phobia, search for “Phobia, social” in the ICD-10-CM Alphabetic Index, which leads you to F40.10. If you’re looking for generalized, it falls under social, directing you to F40.11. Confirm these codes in the Tabular List. For fiscal year 2022, use the following codes for social phobia unless otherwise specified:

F40.10   Social phobia, unspecified

F40.11   Social phobia, generalized

If left untreated, social anxiety can sometimes lead to depression. Depression as a result of social anxiety may be reported using F41.8 Other specified anxiety disorders if the provider indicates a relationship between the two conditions. Otherwise, F32.9 Major depressive disorder, single episode, unspecified would be more appropriate.

Help Is Available

An estimated 15 million American adults and 4.4 million children have social anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But those suffering don’t have to suffer needlessly. Make sure to code this condition correctly so patients experiencing social anxiety disorder get the help they need.


Lee Fifield

About Has 80 Posts

Lee Fifield has a Bachelor of Science in communications from Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *