What Is It?
People with social anxiety fear being judged or remarked on. This can result in acute self-consciousness and fear of doing something ‘stupid’ in front of others. For example, dinner invitations might be refused because of the fear of unintentionally shooting a few peas across the table or dropping some food on the floor. This type of situation would be ‘disastrous’ for a person with Social Anxiety.
Many people experience a degree of shyness in the company of strangers, but if the fear dominates your life, you could be suffering from social phobia.
Many people experience a degree of shyness in the company of strangers, but if the fear dominates your life, you could be suffering from social anxiety disorder.
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble being assertive
- Negative self-talk
- Hypersensitivity to criticism
- Poor social skills
- Isolation and difficult social relationships
- Low academic and employment achievement
- Substance abuse, such as drinking too much alcohol
- Suicide or suicide attempts
Other types of anxiety and certain other mental health disorders, particularly major depressive disorder and substance abuse problems, often occur in parallel with Social Anxiety Disorder.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
AN INTENSE FEAR OF SITUATIONS IN WHICH YOU MAY BE JUDGED OR EVEN THAT OTHERS WILL NOTICE YOU ARE ANXIOUS.
INTENSE FEAR OF INTERACTING OR TALKING WITH STRANGERS OR OF BEING THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION.
HAVING ANXIETY IN ANTICIPATION OF A FEARED ACTIVITY OR EVENT OR ENDURING A SOCIAL SITUATION WITH INTENSE FEAR OR ANXIETY.
EXPECTING THE WORST POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES FROM A NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE DURING A SOCIAL SITUATION.
WORRYING ABOUT EMBARRASSING OR HUMILIATING YOURSELF AND POTENTIALLY AVOIDING DOING THINGS OR SPEAKING TO PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THIS FEAR.
SPENDING TIME AFTER A SOCIAL SITUATION ANALYSING YOUR PERFORMANCE AND IDENTIFYING FLAWS IN YOUR INTERACTIONS.
FEAR OF PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS THAT MAY CAUSE YOU EMBARRASSMENT, SUCH AS BLUSHING, SWEATING, TREMBLING, FAST HEARTBEAT, DIZZINESS, UPSET STOMACH, MUSCLE TENSION, HAVING A SHAKY VOICE OR GOING BLANK.
“For me it surfaced as being afraid to go out, afraid to talk to people, can’t make friends, sit at home all day, panicking about social events, scared to ask people things, feeling like everyone’s watching me, being quiet instead of asking for things I need, not liking talking on the phone at all, overthinking everything, feeling like no one likes me, feeling insecure, not going to clubs or anything because I’m scared of having a confrontation.”
"Social Anxiety was running my life, I couldn’t believe how much it had taken over. I didn’t feel myself, nor was I acting like myself. I was so aware and conscious that I was acting strangely around people, but couldn’t stop it, and this only made me feel even more anxious and worse. At its worst, I couldn’t even look close family and friends in the eye and would make excuses to escape social situations to hide away on my own. But even by myself, I was unable to find any rest or peace for my mind and I felt like there would never be any real escape for me”
“I couldn’t understand what was going on. Everyone else seemed happy and normal – except me. I felt like I was constantly under a spotlight in social situations. I could never get away from the being judged by others happening in my own mind. It made me want to never go out, even sometimes I wanted my life to end, just so that the pain would finally go away”
KEEP A JOURNAL. KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR PERSONAL LIFE CAN HELP YOU AND YOUR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL IDENTIFY WHAT’S CAUSING YOU STRESS AND WHAT SEEMS TO HELP YOU FEEL BETTER.
PRIORITIZE ISSUES IN YOUR LIFE. YOU CAN REDUCE ANXIETY BY CAREFULLY MANAGING YOUR TIME AND ENERGY. MAKE SURE THAT YOU SPEND TIME DOING THINGS YOU ENJOY.
AVOID UNHEALTHY SUBSTANCE USE. ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE AND EVEN CAFFEINE OR NICOTINE USE CAN CAUSE OR WORSEN ANXIETY. IF YOU’RE ADDICTED TO ANY OF THESE SUBSTANCES, QUITTING CAN MAKE YOU ANXIOUS. IF YOU CAN’T QUIT ON YOUR OWN, SEE YOUR DOCTOR OR FIND A TREATMENT PROGRAM OR SUPPORT GROUP TO HELP YOU.