Social anxiety disorder sometimes referred to as social phobia, is a type of anxiety disorder that reasons extreme fear in social settings. People with this disorder have trouble talking to people, meeting new people, and attending social gatherings. They fear being judged or scrutinized by others. They may understand that their fears are irrational or unreasonable, but feel powerless to overcome them.
Social anxiety is different from shyness. Shyness is generally short-term and doesn’t disrupt one’s life. Social anxiety is persistent and debilitating. It can affect one’s ability to:
- attend school
- develop close relationships with people outside of their family
People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) experience significant and chronic fear of social or performance-related situations in which there is the possibility of becoming embarrassed, rejected, or scrutinized. In these conditions, people with SAD almost always experience physical symptoms of anxiety.
The physical symptoms of SAD can be extremely distressing. Common physical symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Chest tightness
- Dry mouth
Social anxiety disorder also involves cognitive symptoms, which are dysfunctional thought patterns. People with this condition are bothered by negative thoughts and self-doubt when it comes to social and performance-related situations.
Below are some common symptoms that you may experience:
Negative beliefs: Strongly held beliefs about your inadequacy in social and/or performance-related situations3
Negative bias: A tendency to discount positive social encounters and magnify the social capabilities of others
Negative thoughts: Automatic negative evaluations about yourself in social or performance-related situations