What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder (sometimes known as social phobia) is an excessive fear of social situations and of social interactions with other people.  These situations may bring about feelings of self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and self-critical thinking.  Most people feel anxiety in certain social situations (Public speaking, job interviews, etc.), but usually it is not significant enough to prevent them from living a full and sociable life. For people with Social Anxiety, these fears can affect every social situation that they encounter and can affect their quality of life and general well-being. It can affect people in many different ways.
People with social anxiety disorder may experience high amounts of anxiety in some of the following situations:
  • Being introduced to other people
  • Being the centre of attention
  • Talking with people in authority
  • Attending a social gathering
  • Talking on the telephone
  • Making eye contact with people
  • Speaking in front of people
  • Doing grocery shopping
  • Walking into a new environment/public space (cafés, restaurants, etc)
  • Performing in front of people at work

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

  • A feeling of intense fear in social situations and /or thinking about social situations
  • An avoidance of social situations
  • Hyper-vigilance, an increased awareness of people and events happening around you
  • Self-critical thinking/thoughts
  • Mind going blank in social situations
  • Catastrophizing
  • Physical symptoms may include:
    • Sweating
    • Shaking
    • Tensing Up
    • Sense of dread
    • Racing heart
    • Racing thoughts
    • Turning red or blushing
    • Feeling sick

The NHS description of Social Anxiety Disorder can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-anxiety/Pages/Social-anxiety.aspx