Social anxiety is more than just shyness. Social anxiety interferes with a person’s ability to fully function in society and have the life that they want. I have been encountering more and more people suffering from this fear or discomfort of others. The sad thing is that most people think that they are alone and that they are the only one who is sensitive and worried about what others will think of them (or say about them), or how others will treat them. Many people fear that they will be bullied or socially rejected and as a result they either act harsh to defend themselves against perceived attacks before they happen, or they just stay home all together…even though they are bored and want to go out and enjoy life.
The symptoms of social anxiety are divided in three groups – physical symptoms, cognitive symptoms, and personality traits.
-A tendency to blush
-Shaky voice and trembling of hands and feet
-Sweaty or cold hands
-Panic attacks (one of the main indicators)
-Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
-Pain or pressure on the thorax
-Difficulty making eye contact
-Fear of being judged or criticized
-Anxiety or fear of being in the spotlight
-Fear of showing symptoms of distress
-The belief that others see you as anxious, weak, crazy or stupid
-Fear of meeting strangers
-Fear of authority figures
-Anxiety that is so strong it disrupts routine daily activities
-Low self-confidence and self-esteem
-Difficulty with being assertive
-Negative thought patterns – “I’ll appear stupid”, “They’re not interested in what I’ve got to say”, etc
-Undeveloped social skills
-Excessive sensitivity to criticism
The good news is that psychotherapy is very effective at treating social anxiety. There are also medications which are very good at reducing anxiety. There is hope.