Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people.  It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in most all areas of a person’s life.  It is chronic because it does not go away on its own.  

Perceptions

People with social anxiety are many times seen by others as being shy, quiet, backward, withdrawn, inhibited, unfriendly, nervous, aloof, and disinterested.

Paradoxically, people with social anxiety want to make friends, be included in groups, and be involved and engaged in social interactions.  But having social anxiety prevents people from being able to do the things they want to do.  Although people with social anxiety want to be friendly, open, and sociable, it is fear (anxiety) that holds them back. 

Triggering Symptoms

People with social anxiety usually experience significant distress in the following situations:

  • Being introduced to other people
  • Being teased or criticized
  • Being the center of attention
  • Being watched or observed while doing something
  • Having to say something in a formal, public situation
  • Meeting people in authority (“important people/authority figures”)
  • Feeling insecure and out of place in social situations (“I don’t know what to say.”)
  • Embarrassing easily (e.g., blushing, shaking)
  • Meeting other peoples’ eyes
  • Swallowing, writing, talking, making phone calls if in public
 
This list is not a complete list of symptoms — other symptoms may be associated with social anxiety as well.

Emotional Symptoms

The feelings that accompany social anxiety include anxiety, high levels of fear, nervousness, automatic negative emotional cycles, racing heart, blushing, excessive sweating, dry throat and mouth, trembling, and muscle twitches. In severe situations, people can develop a dysmorphia concerning part of their body (usually the face) in which they perceive themselves irrationally and negatively.  
Constant, intense anxiety (fear) is the most common symptom.
 
Social anxiety, as well as the other anxiety disorders, can be successfully treated today.  In seeking help for this problem, we recommend searching for a specialist — someone who understands this problem well and knows how to treat it. 
Social anxiety treatment must include an active behavioral therapy group, where members can work on their “anxiety” hierarchies in the group, and later, in real-life situations with other group members.
Social anxiety is a fully treatable condition(link is external) and can be overcome with effective therapy, work, and patience.

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