Can Reality Shows lead to Social Anxiety Disorders?

Updated at: Jul 27, 2012
Can Reality Shows lead to Social Anxiety Disorders?

The prolonged mental pressure to compete and succeed enforced by the rigid format of reality shows leads to participant developing social anxiety disorder. Know what Dr. Pulkit Sharma has to say about it.

Gunjan Rastogi
Mental HealthWritten by: Gunjan RastogiPublished at: Jul 20, 2012

Can Reality Shows lead to Social Anxiety Disorders

Contestants of various reality shows suffer more than the normal jitters of being on T.V. The burden to perform in front of the masses, meeting one’s own desires and more importantly peers’ expectations, judgment based on the live performance and the stress to woo the people to win the show tends to induce anxiety in the participants.

How Reality shows can cause Social Anxiety Disorder?

In order to raise the TRPs, the reality shows are structured in a way that the participants have to go through traumatic experiences and high competition levels. Some easily deal with it while others have a tough time.  The participants, who cannot cope with extreme mental pressure fall prey to specific social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder can be appropriately be called social phobia. In this disorder, an individual refrains from appearing in social meetings or get-togethers due to the fear of being judged or embarrassed.


Dr. Pulkit Sharma, Clinical Psychologist, says “Certainly, persistent pressure to perform on stage leads to SADs. People participating in reality shows have to face a huge audience, compete and succeed. They often encounter traumatic experiences inherent in structure of reality shows. These include being ridiculed, rejected and evaluated harshly. For people who are already struggling with their self-esteem, these experiences can be deeply upsetting and make the person fearful of interacting with people, fear of humiliation, fear of being evaluated harshly, difficulty talking and making eye contact. “


The reality show participants usually suffer from specific social anxiety disorder. In this, a person fears to face some particular situations. Prolonged specific disorder can possibly leads to generalised social anxiety disorder in which person suffers more intense, persistent and severe social fear. Even his own actions, at times, humiliate or embarrass him.

How severe can SAD become?

Dr. Sharma says “Social anxiety disorder can get severe and dysfunctional. In this stage the person fears facing anyone, loses self-confidence starts restricting to their house, becomes withdrawn and depressed, avoids socializing and can have suicidal thoughts. Their studies, work and relationships suffer.” If not diagnosed on time, the prolonged stress with emotional repression of SAD can lead to a person entering into a trauma.


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Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

  • An individual with social anxiety disorder will experience persistent fear in meeting unfamiliar people due to his/her fear of being questioned or judged.  
  • Experiencing the feared social situation will trigger intense anxiety, which can possibly result in predisposed panic disorder or severe distress.
  • The suffering person may also try to seek support of substance abuse to lower the physiological and psychological effects of SAD.
  • The anticipation to avoid social gathering or the distress caused by public exposure will significantly hamper his/her routine life, academic excellence, performance at work and close relationships.


Hope that the parents cooperate with their child and make their kids’ life better and not put much pressure on them to win a show.


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