Disorders of Social Anxiety

Feel incredibly awkward in social settings? Learn about the signs, causes, and methods of self-help for social phobia by using this guide.

What is social phobia or social anxiety disorder?

Many people experience anxiety or self-consciousness occasionally, such as during a speech or a job interview. Yet social anxiety disorder, often known as social phobia, is more than a passing shyness or trepidation. Severe social anxiety disorder is characterized by an extreme fear of some social circumstances, particularly those that are unknown to you or in which you fear scrutiny or judgment from others. These circumstances could be so terrifying that you experience anxiety at the mere thought of them or take extreme measures to avoid them, which causes disruptions in your life.

The underlying dread of scrutinization, judgment, or embarrassment in public is what underlies social anxiety disorder. You might be worried that you won’t measure up to others or that people will think poorly of you. You may even be aware that your concerns about being evaluated are exaggerated and, at the very least, illogical, but you still find yourself feeling uneasy. However, you can regain your life and learn to feel at ease in social situations, regardless of how awfully shy you may be or how severe the butterflies are.

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What is the root cause of social anxiety?

Social anxiety is actually rather prevalent, despite the fact that it may seem like you’re the only one dealing with this issue. Many people experience these anxieties. However, there are variations in the circumstances that set off the symptoms of social anxiety disorder.

In most social situations, anxiety is experienced by certain people. Others associate their fear with particular social circumstances, such approaching strangers, interacting with people at gatherings, or giving a performance in front of an audience. Typical causes of social anxiety include:

social anxiety includes:


getting to know new individuals

Having casual conversations

Speaking in public

Being the focus of attention while performing on stage or being observed while working

being made fun of or chastised

conversing with “important” individuals or authorities

getting called upon in class

Taking a date

Raising your hand during a meeting

Making use of public restrooms


Consuming food or beverages in public

Putting in phone calls

Participating in social events such as parties

indications and manifestations of social anxiety

You do not necessarily have social anxiety disorder or social phobia just because you experience occasional uneasiness in social circumstances. Even while many people experience occasional shyness or self-consciousness, it rarely interferes with their day-to-day activities. On the other side, social anxiety disorder seriously disrupts daily life and causes great distress.

For instance, having the jitters right before a speech is quite common. However, if you suffer from social anxiety, you may start to fret weeks in advance, call in ill to avoid the situation, or get so trembling during the speech that you find it difficult to talk.

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder that are emotional:

Anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in routine social interactions

severe anxiety in the days, weeks, or even months leading up to a social occasion

severe anxiety about being observed or evaluated by others, especially strangers

Fear that your actions will make you feel uncomfortable or ashamed of yourself Fear that other people will see that you’re anxious

Physical indications and manifestations:

blushing or having a red face


nausea and upset stomach (butterflies)

Shaking or trembling, including a wobbly voice

chest tightness or a racing heart

Heat waves or perspiration

feeling lightheaded or faint

Behavioral indicators and manifestations:

avoiding social events to the point where it interferes with your life or restricts your activities

being quiet or disappearing into the background to avoid attention and humiliation

The necessity of constantly traveling with a friend

drinking to calm your anxiety before social interactions

Children with social anxiety disorder

While shyness in children is typical, social anxiety disorder causes severe anguish in children when it comes to commonplace circumstances like speaking to adults, reading aloud in class, playing with other children, or taking examinations. Kids that suffer from social anxiety frequently don’t even want to attend school.

First technique for overcoming social anxiety disorder: confront your negative ideas

The symptoms of social anxiety disorder and social phobia may feel unavoidable, but there are actually a lot of things you can do to help. Starting with a mental challenge is the first step.

People who have social anxiety often hold unfavorable ideas and attitudes, which exacerbates their worries and anxieties.

 These could include ideas like:

“I’m sure I’ll look foolish in the end.”

“I will feel ashamed of myself and my voice will start to shake.”

“People are going to think I’m dumb.”

“I have nothing to say at all. I’ll come out as dull.

One of the most effective ways to lessen the symptoms of social anxiety is to challenge these negative ideas.

Step 1: Recognize the negative habitual thinking behind your social anxiety. For instance, the underlying negative idea you may be experiencing in relation to an impending job presentation could be, “I’m going to blow it.” Everyone is going to believe I’m a total moron.

Step 2: Examine and refute these ideas. To combat negative ideas, it can be helpful to pose questions to oneself, such as “Do I know for sure that I’m going to blow the presentation?” or “Will people think I’m incompetent even if I’m nervous?” You can progressively replace your negative views about social settings that make you anxious with more realistic and upbeat perspectives by applying this logical evaluation to your negative thoughts.

Though it can be extremely frightening to consider the causes of your thoughts and feelings, doing so can assist to mitigate the detrimental effects of your anxiety on your life.

Unhelpful ways of thinking that exacerbate social anxiety

Check to see whether you’re thinking in any of the following harmful ways:

Mind reading is the belief that you are aware of what other people are thinking and that their perception of you is the same as your own, which is negative.

Predicting the future, usually with the assumption that the worst would occur, is known as fortune telling. You’re apprehensive even before you find yourself in the circumstance because you just “know” that everything will go terribly wrong.

Blowing things out of proportion is known as catastrophizing. For instance, it will be deemed “awful,” “terrible,” or “disastrous” if others see that you’re anxious.

Personalizing: Believing that you are the subject of unfavorable attention from others or that your actions are related to the problems of others.

Tip 2: Put other people before yourself.

Many of us have a tendency to become engrossed in our worried thoughts and sensations when we’re in a social scenario that makes us nervous. It’s possible that you think everyone is staring at you and passing judgment. You’re concentrating on your physical experiences in the hopes of gaining more control over them by being extremely aware of them. However, this overemphasis on yourself just serves to increase your awareness of your anxiety levels! Additionally, it keeps you from devoting your entire attention to the performances you’re giving or the conversations going on around you.

Reducing social anxiety can be greatly aided by shifting the attention from inside to outside of oneself. You can’t focus on two things at once, although this is easier said than done. The more you focus on the environment around you, the less anxiety will impact you.

Pay attention to other people, but don’t let their opinions of you consume your thoughts! Rather, try your best to interact with them and establish a sincere rapport.

Recall that anxiousness isn’t as obvious as you may believe. Furthermore, it doesn’t necessarily follow that someone will think poorly of you if they see that you’re anxious. It is likely that others are experiencing similar anxiety to yours, or have experienced it in the past.

Pay close attention to what is being stated rather than your own pessimistic thoughts.

Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say or punishing yourself for a mistake that has already happened, concentrate on the here and now.

Let go of the need to be flawless. Rather, concentrate on being sincere and attentive—qualities that others will value.

Tip 3: Develop breathing control

When you experience anxiety, your body goes through several changes. Your breathing starts to become rapid, which is one of the initial alterations. Hyperventilation, or overbreathing, upsets the equilibrium of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body, which causes additional physical symptoms of anxiety, including tense muscles, dizziness, and a suffocating sensation.

Regaining control over your physical symptoms of anxiety might be facilitated by learning to slow down your breathing. You can maintain your composure by engaging in the following breathing exercises:

With your shoulders relaxed and your back upright, take a comfortable seat. Place a hand on your stomach and another on your chest.

Take four calm, deep breaths through your nose. The hand on your chest should barely move, but the hand on your stomach should rise.

Breathe in and out for two seconds.

Take a slow, six-second breath through your mouth, forcing out as much air as you can. When you exhale, your other hand should move very little and the hand on your stomach should move in.

Breathe in via your nose and out of your mouth as usual. Concentrate on maintaining a 4-in, 2-hold, and 6-out breathing pattern.

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