Social Phobia/ Social Anxiety

Do you avoid social or performance situations for fear that you will say or doing something that will be humiliating or embarrassing?

Social anxiety is a fear of being scrutinized or negatively judged by others in a social or performance situation.  People with social anxiety are terrified of saying or doing something that will humiliate or embarrass them.  It usually starts in childhood and adolescence and continues into adulthood.  It is the most common anxiety disorder. Typical situations that cause anxiety are:

  • Starting or maintaining a conversation
  • Appearing nervous to others or being observed blushing, sweating or shaking.
  • Using a public restroom
  • Participating in small groups
  • Eating in front of others
  • Giving a presentation
  • Asking someone out
  • Being observed by others
  • Being the center of attention

For children and teens, additional situations that cause anxiety are:

  • Answering questions in class
  • Asking the teacher a question
  • Having a school picture taken
  • PE
  • Writing on a white board
  • Inviting others to get together

People with social anxiety usually know that their anxiety is somewhat unreasonable but this does not change their reaction to situations.  They often avoid the situations that make them anxious or endure it with significant distress. Common physical symptoms associated with social anxiety are blushing; sweating; shaking; nausea; rapid heartbeat; shortness of breath; dizziness; headaches. In children social anxiety can be associated with selective mutism and school refusal.

To learn more about our Adult & Teen Social Anxiety Groups, view our group flier (PDF).

Jennifer Shannon speaks with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s Jean Teichroew on Teen Social Anxiety Disorder.