What is Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia?

Maybe you’ve always struggled to connect with new people, and the thought of going to an event with many strangers is nerve-wracking. Or perhaps you occasionally feel so anxious about attending social gatherings that you tend to cancel plans and skip out on invitations altogether. You might even have trouble making phone calls to schedule appointments or running errands that require interacting with others.

These issues can be symptoms of social anxiety disorder, sometimes known as social phobia. While social anxiety disorder can be debilitating, it’s also treatable. Let’s explore the varied symptoms of social anxiety disorder and common treatment options.

Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder

What does it really mean to have social anxiety disorder? Different people can present different symptoms of this condition. But overall, someone with social anxiety disorder deeply fears social situations. Some people only struggle when they’re in crowds with strangers, but others have difficulty navigating even low-pressure, one-on-one interactions with people, like calling a restaurant to order takeout or answering the door to sign for package delivery.

Sometimes, even people in careers that require frequent engagement with crowds can have social anxiety disorder. Plenty of actors, comedians, and musicians deal with this condition. It’s not limited to a specific type of person – it can affect anybody.

Mental Health Symptoms Of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can have a profound effect on your mental health. Someone with this disorder tends to approach any social interaction with preconceived negative perceptions. They might assume that whoever they’re talking to will judge them negatively and that they will annoy the people whom they interact with. The fear of making one minor mistake or doing something mildly embarrassing can prevent them from socializing because they worry that if they do something “wrong,” no one will let them forget it. They tend to ruminate on past mistakes they’ve made in social situations and assume that everyone else remembers these moments as clearly as they do.

Unfortunately, these fears can influence how someone acts in social situations. They might trip over their words, forget what they want to say, or clam up because of their anxiety.

Physical Symptoms Of Social Anxiety

Many people also struggle with irritating physical symptoms of social anxiety. They might suffer from headaches or stomachaches, especially when they’re getting ready for a big event. Sometimes, these symptoms are so severe they choose not to attend. Lots of people with social anxiety also deal with insomnia leading up to social events.

How Social Anxiety Can Affect Your Life

Ultimately, social anxiety can take a massive toll on someone’s life. They may have trouble forming friendships or romantic relationships, which can be deeply isolating. Sometimes, they might put off important appointments to their detriment – for example, someone might postpone scheduling dental appointments even if they have tooth pain, simply because they can’t interact with anyone. People with social anxiety may have difficulty holding down jobs or end up underemployed because they hold themselves back from applying to better positions.

Treatment For Social Anxiety

Living with social anxiety isn’t easy. However, treatment does exist, and plenty of people learn to manage their symptoms through healthy coping strategies. Talking to a therapist is often the first step to healing. The right therapist can help you feel comfortable and secure in social environments; opening up in this context can be freeing.

Are you struggling with social anxiety? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling your first session for therapy for women.