What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition that causes an extreme fear of being judged or humiliated when around other people. This phobia can make it difficult for someone to have a healthy social, work, or school life.
Social anxiety is more than being introverted or shy. While introversion is simply a personality trait, social anxiety causes pain and disruption in a person’s life.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder causes psychological, behavioral, and physical symptoms. These symptoms may be triggered by being around other people or even thinking about social situations.
Psychological symptoms of social anxiety:
- Obsessive worry about social situations
- Extreme fear that others will notice the social anxiety
- Worry about embarrassing oneself
- Intense fear of being judged
- Fretting about a social event weeks before it occurs
These psychological issues cause people to alter their behaviors. This may include:
- Avoiding social events entirely
- Missing school or work
- Depending on alcohol or other substances to get through social events
When someone with social anxiety disorder is faced with a social situation, they may develop physical symptoms such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Abnormal sweating
- Trouble speaking, stumbling over words
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
Where Does Social Anxiety Come From?
Many people who develop social anxiety disorder do so after traumatic experiences or environments. Others are more likely to develop the condition due to their genetics or unique neurology. Finally, unhealthy coping mechanisms and attachments can be at the root of social anxiety.
Is Social Anxiety Common?
Social anxiety disorder affects approximately seven percent of people in the United States. About 13 percent of people will experience it in their lifetime. This makes it the third-leading mental health condition in the country.
Can Social Anxiety Be Cured?
With high-quality mental health care, people with social anxiety disorder can overcome their struggles and live without symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the primary method for treating social anxiety disorder, and some patients can benefit from taking medication as well.
Telehealth can be particularly useful for people with social anxiety disorder, especially at the beginning of treatment. Because they can access high-quality care at home, patients do not have to face many of their fears in order to use teletherapy. This makes them more likely to seek care in the first place and stick to the treatment plan.