Social Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, involves intense fear of certain social situations, especially situations that are unfamiliar or in which you’ll be watched or evaluated by others. These social situations may be so frightening that you get anxious just thinking about them or go to great lengths to avoid them.
Many people get nervous or self-conscious on occasion, when giving a speech or interviewing for a new job. However, social anxiety disorder is more than just shyness or occasional nerves.
If you have social and performance anxiety, your fear of embarrassing yourself is intense;
so intense, that you may go to great lengths to avoid situations that would trigger it,
or endure situations with much discomfort. It significantly interferes with your daily life.
The good news is that there are many effective options to help you manage
the symptoms of social anxiety and reclaim your life!
An example of social anxiety: Matthew's story
Matthew skipped class today. It’s the first day of the new semester, and he’s afraid that the professor will go around the class and have the students introduce themselves. He knows it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it really stresses him out. Whenever he has to speak in front of more than just a few people, his voice starts shaking and his face gets red. He always feels so humiliated afterwards.
Since public speaking is Matthew’s worst nightmare, he’s been avoiding a speech class he has to take in order to graduate. He’s also dreading his brother’s wedding, even though it’s over six months away. As the best man, he’ll have to give a toast at the reception and he’s already nervous about it.
View more personal stories of social anxiety.
Underlying social anxiety disorder is the fear of being scrutinized, judged, or embarrassed in public. You may be afraid that people will think badly of you or that you won’t measure up in comparison to others. And even though you probably realize that your fears of being judged are at least somewhat irrational and overblown, you still can’t help feeling anxious.
Although it may feel like you’re the only one with this problem, social anxiety disorder is actually quite common.
Many people struggle with these fears. However, the situations that trigger the symptoms of social phobia can be different.
Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder:
What is Social Anxiety?
Psychological symptoms of social anxiety disorder:
The following situations are often stressful for people with social anxiety:
Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation
Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially people you don’t know
Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
Fear that you’ll act in ways that that will embarrass or humiliate yourself
Fear that others will notice that you’re nervous
Avoidance of social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life