What is social anxiety disorder/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 feel 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.
Underlying social anxiety disorder or social phobia 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.
Common social phobia/social anxiety disorder triggers
Although it may feel like you’re the only one with this problem, social anxiety/phobia is actually quite common. Many people struggle with these fears but the situations that trigger the symptoms of social anxiety can be different.
Some people experience anxiety in most social and performance situations, a condition known as generalized social anxiety disorder. For other people, anxiety is connected with specific social situations, such as speaking to strangers, eating at restaurants, or going to parties.
The most common specific social phobia is fear of public speaking or performing in front of an audience.
Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder/social phobia
Just because you occasionally get nervous in social situations doesn’t mean that you have social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Many people are shy or self-conscious – at least from time to time – yet it doesn’t get in the way of their everyday functioning. Social anxiety on the other hand, does interfere with your normal routine and causes tremendous distress.
For example, it’s perfectly normal to get the jitters before giving a speech but if you have social anxiety you might worry for weeks ahead of time, call in sick to get out of it or start shaking so bad during the speech that you can hardly speak.
Emotional symptoms of social anxiety disorder/social phobia
• Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
• 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
• Fear that you will act in ways that will embarrass or humiliate you
• Fears that others will know that you are nervous
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