Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is a long-term fear of social situations. It’s a typical problem that starts in the teen years and can be very distressing by significantly impacting daily life. Usually, people get better on their own when they get older, but for some, the disorder will not go away without any treatments. Seeking help if you are having symptoms is crucial since treatments help manage the disorder.
Social anxiety symptoms
Social anxiety is more related to shyness than fear, which doesn’t go away, impacts daily life, reduces self-confidence, affects relationships, and influences school or work life. Many occasionally worry or think about their social situations, but you might have social anxiety if you:
- Worry or fear about everyday activities like meeting new people, speaking on the phone, starting conversations, shopping, and working.
- Avoid social activities like company eating, parties, or group conversations.
- Always feel like doing something you think might embarrass you, like sweating, appearing incompetent, or sweating.
- Find it hard to do certain things while others are watching; you might feel judged or watched all the time.
- Fear critics, have low self-esteem, or avoid eye contact.
- Often undergo symptoms like sickness, trembling, sweating, or a fast heartbeat (pounding heartbeat).
- Have panic attacks, where you develop an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety (typically for a few minutes)
Many with social anxiety have other mental health issues, like depression, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety disorder.
How to overcome anxiety?
Self-care or self-help can reduce social anxiety; you might find them helpful before trying other treatments.
- Try understanding your anxiety: Write down what goes through your mind and how you behave in specific social situations.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Example, breathing exercises for stress.
- Break down situations: When you are in any tense situations, try breaking them down into small parts to analyze them.
- Ask: Don’t assume the worst; focus on what people say.
Social anxiety treatments
There are various treatments for the condition, but the following are the primary ones that a doctor or a specialist is likely to recommend:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Antidepressant medicines
- Guided self-help
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 16 JULY 2022