Updated: Jul 6
Are you worried about being judged by others? Are you self-conscious in everyday social situations? Do you avoid meeting new people due to fear or anxiety?
We all are aware of the feeling of being nervous or uncomfortable in a social situation. One might have clammed up when meeting someone new, or their palms started getting sweaty before a big presentation. Public Speaking or walking into a room full of people isn’t exactly thrilling for everyone, but most people get through it.
The fear of being judged or negatively evaluated or rejected in a social setting or a performance situation that leads to intense anxiety is called Social Anxiety.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social Anxiety is a common type of anxiety, in which a person feels anxiety or fear in situations where they may be scrutinized, evaluated, or judged by others, such as in public speaking, meeting new people, dating, or being on a job interview, etc.
The anxiety can be felt during performing everyday tasks like eating or drinking in front of others, using a public restroom, etc., where an individual feels he/she might be humiliated, judged, or rejected.
The fear or anxiety in social situations is so intense that the person feels it is beyond their control. For some, social anxiety might get in way of their going to work, attending school, or doing everyday things. People having social anxiety can experience worry weeks before the planned engagement in social situations. As a result, many of the time, people end up avoiding social situations as they can be causing distress or generating feelings of embarrassment.
People with social anxiety worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious, for example, blushing, stumbling over words, or being viewed as stupid, awkward, or boring. They try to avoid that particular social situation, but when it can’t be avoided, they experience significant anxiety and distress.
The global prevalence of Social Anxiety is reported significantly higher, as more than 1 individual in 3 is meeting the threshold criteria for having Social Anxiety Disorder. It is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder. The average onset of Social Anxiety Disorder is during the teenage years.
The exact cause of Social Anxiety Disorder is unknown, however, some of the current researchers state that it is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Negative experiences in the past may also contribute to social anxiety, for example, bullying, family conflict, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, etc.
Signs & Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
Every individual experiences Social Anxiety Disorder differently, as some people might experience anxiety in a limited or two particular situations like speaking in public, or initiating conversation, whereas others might experience intense anxiety in any social situation.
However, here are some of the common symptoms people with Social Anxiety Disorder experience during engaging in social situations.
Emotional & Behavioural Symptoms
Fear in situations in which one might be judged negatively
Worrying about a social event weeks or months before
Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating oneself
Avoiding social situations
Intense fear of interacting with strangers
Fear that others might figure out you look anxious
Avoiding interacting with people or doing some things
Analyzing one self’s performance after a social situation.
Expecting the worst possible consequences from a negative experience
Trembling or Shaking
Dizziness or Lightheadedness
Rapid Heart Rate
Trouble catching your breath
In children, anxiety about social situations like interacting with adults or peers can be shown by crying, having temper tantrums, clinging to parents, or refusing to speak in social situations.
Signs and symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder might change over time, as they may become more intense when an individual is going through a lot of changes, stress, or demands in life.
However, avoiding situations that makes an individual anxious does make them feel better, but in short term. In the long term, it is likely to get intense if professional help is not taken.
Managing Social Anxiety
If you’re concerned that you might have similar symptoms mentioned above, the first step should be to talk to a health care provider. A family doctor or anyone you feel comfortable talking to would be the best way to go forward. The person you’re talking to might refer you to a Mental Health Professional and then the treatment for this will be started.
Social Anxiety can be treated by a number of therapies, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in which a therapist can help you identify and change the thinking patterns that make you anxious in social situations, or Exposure Therapy, in which the therapist makes the patient confront their fears gradually, and alongside relaxation exercises to calm the patient.
Along with therapy, there are a few things people with Social Anxiety can do which might make them feel better:
- Avoid Caffeine: Foods or drinks like chocolate, coffee, or soda are stimulants that lead to an increase in the levels of anxiety.
- Get Plenty of Sleep: Getting at least 8 hours of sleep as recommended every night will be helpful, as lack of sleep is also linked to worsening the symptoms of social anxiety.
- Support Groups: Many people with social anxiety find the support groups helpful. In a room full of people having social anxiety, one can receive unbiased and honest feedback, which can help one understand their own distorted thinking patterns.
What Can BluetoYellow Do About Your Social Anxiety?
Social Anxiety, when become intense, prevents you from living your life. You’ll avoid situations that most people consider “normal.” You might even have a hard time understanding how others can handle them so easily. If your social anxiety keeps you from doing things you want or need to do, or from making or keeping friends, you may need treatment.
BluetoYellow is working towards providing quality online counseling sessions to the young population at affordable prices.
Our dynamic therapists follow a client-centric approach that creates a safe and confidential space for you to express your emotions and thoughts without any judgment.
If you are suspecting that anxiety is interfering with your well-being, or if you know someone who can be benefited from the blog, forward the page to bring awareness to them.
You can start your mental health journey with the small step of booking an appointment with BluetoYellow today.