Social Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms and Therapy

When it comes to social situations, they can be uncomfortable for everyone. But, there are those who are extremely uncomfortable in all social situations and try to avoid them altogether. Those are people who are suffering from social anxiety disorder or from social phobia. If you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, here are a few symptoms and some tips to help start working through this phobia.

What is social anxiety disorder?
Social anxiety disorder simply means you are excessively afraid of being judged, making mistakes or being embarrassed in social situations. It is a very real fear but you have no reasoning behind why you are as frightened as you are. It can affect your daily life where you avoid social situations at all cost. When you do have to face social situations you can suffer panic attacks if the situation is critical enough. Some of your fears might include eating and drinking in front of others, talking on the phone or even using a public restroom.

What can you do?
Cognitive behavioral therapy seems to be the most helpful in this situation. Your therapist can help you adjust your thinking into a more rational line of thoughts than what is currently going on. They can offer you tips and tricks to help you halt the panic attacks or at least manage them if you do get into certain situations. The therapist can also provide you with ways to work on your fears in a safe place before you head out into other social situations. 

This is a very common anxiety disorder and is one that offers some assistance through therapy and perhaps medications. If you or someone you love seems to be suffering from this anxiety, there are ways to get the help you need. You can get back to living your life and enjoying being in social situations again. 

Bhandari,S. MD, "Social Anxiety Disorder", WebMD.(Website).(April 2016).
  • 26 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • thank you. social anxiety is very real.....but can be managed.
  • I really like to read this piece of text, thank you so much. I think that nowadays, understanding the disorders and possible mental health problems is one of the most important thing.

    If there are ways for people to recognize it in themselves they can accesshelp and ask for help easier.

    First step is always the discover, even if it comes from outside.
  • I suffer from social anxiety disorder and I do take medication for the anxiety but I do not get treatment other than that. I know I probably should seek therapy but it just does not seem the right time. My two children are in therapy and it is just too busy for me to do this. I do try to go to social functions and to try to breech my comfort zone every once in a while. Thanks for all this information.
  • I had this for years and I did not like to go to parties or social events with my family. My immediate family thought I was very weird and a shut in. They also thought that being a shut in led to my panic attacks and I am sure that it did play to it some way.
  • It's always nice to read that there is a solution to the problem. I've always found that facing my fears head on helps the most. I feel the most comfortable when I am the person starting the exchange. I feel more in control and that helps with the anxiety the most.
  • I suffer from social anxiety... I loathe most social interaction, even with friends.  Let alone strangers.  I truly dread having to greet everyone when I arrive somewhere,  I just don't like it.  Like when we go to the mall to drink coffee. Why should I greet those people?  I don't know them!  If I did it would not be so bad.  I guess I could consider behavioral theraphy. 
  • This forum is the greatest thing ever, I have been suffering from social anxiety my whole life, the problem is in my country its not even a thing. Here people think its simple being shy and weird, I have changed a lot over the years but still have a hard time dealing with daily social situations and there's nobody to compare to, there's nobody else here with these problems that I know of.

    I have never really researched for help on the subject at all, I only looked up my symptoms once and realized what it was. I don't know I guess I'm still in denial somehow and don't wanted to face it directly, I always avoid reading about social anxiety.
  • Thank you @Bidnas for posting on this fear. I k now it to be very real as I had it really bad when I was younger and it never really fully goes away. I would literally feel my whole body freeze up when i was a in a crowd and I felt as if all eyes were on me. My heart would race and my chest would tighten up and pain so badly. I've beaten it now, but every now and again I feel it trying to rise. I would encourage anyone to try to beat social anxiety and go for the win. It is very beatable and replaceable with a high level of confidence and know-how when it comes to hanging out absolutely anywhere with anyone.
  • Thanks a lot for such an informative post. I suffer from social anxiety and it's so hard for me to actually do something. I need a job, I'm living on my parents after university and just the fact of thinking about job interviews makes my heart race, but I got courageous enough to apply to a couple because they had forms online, so that's a start. I agree that fighting our fears is the best way to conquer the anxiety but it's way too hard to do so and teraphy may be the solution or at least a part of it.
  • Well this is certainly becoming more and more relevant in the discussions today surrounding mental health and issues like that, and I think that is a good thing.  The more information out there the better, and that usually means that there are more resources and help for people that need it.  I am glad that there are therapy options available.
  • I have anxiety issues. However, I don't know whether this is social anxiety disorder or just anxiety disorder.I read the thread carefully and tried to analyze the symptoms.  I am still confused.
  • I have had this since I was a child. Still suffer from it badly. I do not go out to parties, I have small groups of friends that I feel most comfortable with. I speak little and prefer being with one other close friend before I will speak comfortably. I think maybe I need to now consider medication or therapy because due to it, friends have started raising questions about certain things that I do not know how to share.
  • Just reading bout this is making me nervous bout having to go inside right now. I hate having to interact with my family. I live in the guest house out back and I feel safer when I am all alone. 
  • I think social anxiety is much more common than we realize. It's not just a disorder or illness in itself but is an accompanied factor to both physical and mental health illnesses and disorders and can even be present without them. Some people are more prone to it than others but ultimately, it seems to be the result of emotional issues relating to past experiences in life. Once someone with social anxiety begins to realize this, they begin to realize that there are indeed things that can be done about it to change how they emotionally respond to social situations.
  • CBT was a life-saver for me. I had struggled with many types of anxiety in the past, which led eventually to full-blown agoraphobia - which meant I could barely leave my house. But through behavioral therapy with a really great therapist, I was able to begin leading a normal life again. I;d definitely recommend it to anyone in the same situation.
  • Story of my life. I HATE going outside to socialize. Even simple tasks like going outside to buy food is extremely painful for me. But, hey, when you gotta, you gotta. I usually group all my weekly tasks together, that way I only have to go outside in the most efficient way possible. I go to the bank, doctor, grocery all in one day so I only have to dread about leaving the house once in a while.
  • Thank you so much for sharing, it's always good to keep this information in our minds, just in case.
    I don't think that I have this disorder, but I definitely have a level of social anxiety, when I'm around people that I don't know for a long time I really feel the need to take a break of it and spend about five minutes on my own. And also, I'm an extremely awkward person, and I enjoy a lot spending my spare time on my own.
  • Thanks for sharing that information on the forums. I know a lot of people that struggle with anxiety. A lot of people in my family have problems with it, and it sucks to see them struggle to cope with it despite taking medication. I think as a society we need to do a better job of understanding people with social anxiety and those with mental illness in general. 
  • @Bidnas Thank you for sharing this here. What has struck me by so many other's comments here is that the disorder is so common. I have recently been through counselling and have been able to process some anxiety that I have experienced when in social situations. I found it really helpful to speak with a professional who was not emotionally involved in my past or in my life at all, other than our weekly hour - long meeting. Her being removed meant that I was not anxious to see her because I knew she was for me.

    I am curious, however, about your thoughts with regard to those of us who are quite introverted, getting our refreshment from being alone. I am certainly not saying that social anxiety disorder is not real, but I wonder if it is simply the fact of being an introvert that is then accentuated by living in such cultures which are loud, full of socialising and high energy interaction.

    I have friends who are extroverted and can get anxious from spending too much time alone. Could that be social anxiety disorder formed in the reverse?
  • @CharlotteSmith very good point about extroverts who get anxiety when they are alone too much... i think we are all wired it's great to pay attention to what works for you...and not compare with others.  

    it took me years to really accept that i'm an introvert and there's nothing wrong with me. i have a sensitivity that others may not have...and i am particularly sensitive to energy. i'm most at peace alone... but i do watch that i don't get out of balance...relationship and community is important to a degree.

  • Great post! I have read that a person with social anxiety is afraid that he or she will make mistakes, look bad, and be embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. This was what my younger sister has been suffering! And we got an appointment with a doctor from a mental wellness centre on the next week. So I just needed to know more regarding this and found your post. Such posts are always useful for people whose dear ones are suffering! Thank you!
  • I agree with tonyjones. CBT saved my life as well especially REBT. I had to learn how to reform negative and irrational thoughts, feelings, and behaviors into positive ones. I have to practice a lot but it does work.
  • Anxiety disorder is when anxiety gets out of control, and becomes a constant state in which we live our lives. It begins to inhibit us from moving forward in any direction, and can lead to panic and even heart conditions.
  • Thanks for this post, and all the comments.

    I wonder if anyone has had a similar experience to me. I have just done an online self-test for social anxiety. I couldn't complete it. It differs drastically in different situations.

    I have always been told I'm a 'people's person'. I have absolutely no problem meeting new people and interacting with strangers, as well as most friends. I backpacked for 3 months, alone. I worked on superyachts for 5 years. I studied PR and Marketing. I was in all the school plays etc... My anxiety comes around close family, mostly when with them around other people I know.

    I remember asking my parents not to attend my school plays and sports matches, as I had more confidence when they weren't there (I'm 28 now by the way).

    My parents split when I was 5. I don't remember it ever being traumatic though. They are still happy to go for a lunch together with me now... It's me that gets super anxious about it. I also don't like attending family events. I don't like them asking how I'm doing. Why???

    Has anyone experienced anything like this???

  • @itShouldBeSoSimple... I'm the same way from time to time. Being around family can be incredibly uncomfortable and stressful for me. I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family--my dad was an alcoholic--and I think that has a lot to do with it. Regardless, I've grown to accept myself for who I am, and if a situation makes me uncomfortable, I allow myself to remove myself from that situation. It's all about doing what makes ME happy, because I should always be my number one priority.
  • This is a very unpleasant "disease", very .... people who suffer from such a disorder can not live and work normally. First of all, you must follow the regime. The second not unimportant moment is physical activity. No less important than the proper selection of medications. And pills, of course. I refused antidepressants and saw nootropicboost, they help cope with anxiety
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