Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by intense fear, anxiety, or avoidance of social situations. People with social anxiety disorder fear being embarrassed, humiliated, or judged by others.
These feelings can manifest in various situations, such as:
- Public speaking: Fear of speaking in front of a group is a common form of social anxiety. Even speaking up in a small meeting can cause intense anxiety for some people with this condition.
- Eating in public: Some people with social anxiety feel extremely self-conscious about eating or drinking in front of others, worried they might spill or choke on their food.
- Meeting new people: Social situations like parties or networking events can be incredibly daunting. Individuals with social anxiety often worry excessively about saying something wrong or embarrassing themselves.
- Performance situations: Performing in public, such as playing a sport or musical instrument, can trigger social anxiety.
- Everyday interactions: Simple actions like making phone calls, using public restrooms, or even writing in front of others can be challenging for someone with social anxiety.
This disorder is not simply shyness or introversion. While shy or introverted individuals may feel uncomfortable in social situations, they do not necessarily experience the intense fear that characterizes social anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of social anxiety can be physical (blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, rapid heartbeat), cognitive (fear of embarrassment or humiliation), and behavioral (avoidance of social situations).