Social anxiety or social phobia can be identified as the experience of excessive or unreasonable fear and self-consciousness related to everyday situations.

People who experience social anxiety have an overwhelming concern that they will be closely watched, criticized, or judged by others. They may feel embarrassed, having a hard time talking to others when they wish they could do so with more ease.

About Social Anxiety

Experiencing social anxiety can get in the way of going to work or school. It can also lead to difficulty creating and maintaining friendships or romantic relationships.

Social anxiety disorder should not be confused with occasional anxiety, embarrassment, or fear about an upcoming event such as making a public presentation.

While everyone experiences these feelings from time to time, a person with social anxiety disorder might worry about these instances for weeks before they occur and may ruminate about them for weeks following the event, scrutinizing any perceived personal failings.

A person’s experience with social anxiety may apply to one particular situation (such as talking on the telephone, eating in front of others, or attending parties) or may apply to a much broader range of daily experiences. Children who experience social anxiety may display symptoms of crying, throwing tantrums, hiding behind/clinging to their caregiver, or complete refusal to speak outside of the home.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Physical symptoms of social anxiety can include blushing, excessive sweating, trembling, nausea, increased heart rate, lightheadedness/dizziness, muscle tension/aches, or an “out of body feeling”. If you or your loved one are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to see your primary care physician to rule out medical issues that could be causing or contributing to your symptoms.

Social Anxiety can be magnified when paired with lack of social skills, depression, or other anxiety disorders. Sometimes social anxiety can lead to panic attacks. This sort of acute distress might lead a person to avoid many social situations altogether. Social anxiety disorder can place a person at risk for substance abuse or dependence if they attempt to self-medicate their anxiety. Often times, progress can be achieved by working with a trained psychiatrist who can discern if medication would appropriate or helpful.

Treatment for Social Anxiety

Participating in social anxiety treatment can lead to improved self-esteem, better social skills, or the ability to develop and utilize relaxation techniques for coping with symptoms of social anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown to be extremely effective treatment for social anxiety. CBT provides the tools to understand and change negative thought patterns that cause symptoms, while also teaching the client with social anxiety how to replace these problematic thoughts with healthier and more helpful ones. Additional approaches to social anxiety treatment may include systematic desensitization, exposure therapy, or social skills training.

If you would like to speak with a therapist about social anxiety disorder, or if you need assistance in determining if you or your loved one would benefit from treatment for social anxiety, call or email today.