What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety (also known as social phobia) is a common anxiety disorder characterised by persistent and overwhelming fear of social situations. We can all get a bit anxious about social situations at times, especially if the event is important, however someone suffering from social anxiety will worry more frequently and more intensely at the thought of a social situation.
Sometimes these worries can be very concrete and specific, such as fear of them falling over in front of others or being laughed at. These worries can make it very difficult for people who suffer to even go about everyday activities such as making phone calls or interacting with cashiers in a shop. In this way, social anxiety can greatly disrupt day to day functioning and have harmful consequences.
Although the list below is not exhaustive, some of the common symptoms include:
- Dread of everyday activities such as meetings, talking in groups, speaking on the phone, shopping
- Low self esteem
- Fear of being criticised
- Avoiding eye contact
- Misuse of drugs or alcohol to manage social anxiety
If you feel that the above might apply to you, therapy can be very effective in helping you to understand the origins of your social anxiety and helping you to overcome it.
Which therapies might help?
- Cognitive Behavioural therapy
- Cognitive Analytic therapy