Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder where the person experiences fear and discomfort during social interactions. This cause self-consciousness and feelings of being judged, which leads to avoidance of these situations.
Two types of social anxiety exist. Generalized social anxiety and specific social anxiety. Generalized social anxiety means experiencing anxiety in the presence of other people, while people having specific social anxiety have symptoms at a specific event. Like holding a presentation.
Since social situations cause pain and discomfort, they are avoided, which fuels the condition. This causes a negative loop.
Social anxiety should not be confused with shyness, where the former is a real obstacle from living a normal life.
Social anxiety is a very common condition. A study in America 1994 showed that 13,3% of the population sometime during their lifetime met the criteria for social anxiety.
Do I Have Social Anxiety?
People with social anxiety experience significant emotional distress in these situations:
- Meeting new people.
- Being criticized.
- Being in the center of attention.
- Being observed while performing a task.
- Meeting people in a position of authority.
- Interpersonal relationships.
The stress can cause the following symptoms:
- Racing heart
- Turning red or blushing
- Excessive sweating
- Dry throat and mouth
- Muscle twitches around the face and neck
To get an indication if you have social anxiety you can take an online test like this one by socialanxietyinstitute.org.
The Causes Of Social Anxiety
If the social anxiety is inherited or if it is created by events in life has not been established. Although it is more likely to have social anxiety if a parent has it. Social anxiety often shows first during puberty when the pressure from society increases.
The most common form of treatment is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The working principle is to expose yourself to social situations step by step, in combination with understanding and awareness. It is called exposure therapy. Over time the fear will diminish or vanish completely.