Do You Have Social Anxiety Disorder?

What is social anxiety?

We all want to be accepted. We want to fit in. That’s just part of being human. After all, people who never care about others opinions are often not very pleasant to be around and have a completely different set of problems.

Everyday examples can lead to some social anxiety such as:

Embarrassment after spilling a drink

Stage fright before a big performance

Awkwardness while talking to someone you don’t know well

Nervousness during a job interview

Feeling jittery before giving a speech


These are common experiences almost everyone is had at one point or another.

When does social anxiety becomes social anxiety disorder?

A person with social anxiety disorder will:

Show significant and persistent fear of social situations in which embarrassment or rejection may occur

Experience immediate anxiety-driven, physical reactions to feared social situations

Realize that his or her fears are greatly exaggerated, but feel powerless to do anything about them

Often avoid the dreaded social situation at any cost


People with social anxiety disorder are plagued with negative thoughts and doubts about themselves such as:

Do I look OK?

Am I dressed appropriately?

Will I know what to talk about?

Well I sound stupid, or boring?

What if other people don’t like me?

What if people notice I’m nervous?

What if people think I’m too quiet?


The fear of possible rejection or disapproval is formost in socially anxious peoples minds, and they scan for any signs that confirm their negative expectations.

Physical symptoms of social anxiety

Many people don’t realize that actual physical discomfort can accompany social anxiety. For example, someone may experience a panic attack in a social situation, in which they feel an acute and severe rush of fear and anxiety, accompanied by some or all of the following symptoms:

Shortness of breath
Tightness in the chest
Racing heart
Tingling or sensations of numbness
Nausea or diarrhea
Dizziness and shaking
Sweating


Many people are misdiagnosed with panic disorder when, in fact, they have social anxiety disorder. The key to knowing which of the two is the real problem lies in understanding the root fear. In panic disorder, the person fears the panic attack itself. In the case of social anxiety disorder, the fear is centered around the possibility that people might witness the panic attack and the resulting humiliation that would occur. Keep in mind, some people may have both panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.

Not everyone with social anxiety experiences full-blown panic attacks, though. Instead, some people are extremely bothered by and focused on a particular physical aspect of their condition. The most common examples include blushing, sweating, and shaking.

Regardless of which particular physical symptoms someone experiences, anxiety is never pleasant. Having one’s body in a state of constant alert takes it’s toll and can lead to chronic fatigue, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.

The toll of avoidance

It’s human nature to avoid suffering. From an evolutionary perspective, we are “hard-wired“ either to fight or flee from a dangerous situation. It’s no surprise then people with social anxiety disorder tend to avoid or painfully endure situations that they believe will cause them harm. This might mean never attending a party or going to a restaurant. It might mean having few, if any friends. It might mean never having an intimate relationship. It might mean dropping out of school or working at a job beneath one’s potential.

In all cases, though, people with social anxiety disorder limit their choices out of fear. Decisions in life are based upon what they’re comfortable with rather than what they might truly want to do.

You’re not alone: social anxiety affects millions of people

You may have thought that no one else shared your problem. But you are not alone. The most up-to-date information suggests that one and eight Americans will, at some point in his or her life, suffer from social anxiety disorder. This makes social anxiety disorder the third most common psychiatric disorder, after depression and alcoholism. Millions of people—from ten to 19 million depending on the particular survey cited – are affected by social anxiety.

The good news!

Now, more than ever, there are ways to minimize the harmful effects of unchecked social anxiety. You’ve taken an important step just by reading this information. Take a few moments and allow yourself to imagine a life free from the fear and anxiety you’ve grown so accustomed to. Imagine a life or you can do what you truly want to do, not only what you’re “comfortable” doing. Know that you’re in the right place – you can reclaim your life.

Don’t suffer in silence. Call or text 314-756-5155 for specialized, confidential and effective treatment for social anxiety.

LOCAL TREATMENT FOR social anxiety disorder IN ST. LOUIS, MO WITH PSYCHOLOGIST, BARBARA MARKWAY, PH.D.