WHAT IS IT?
Social Anxiety Disorder is also called Social Phobia. It is a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations. It is a common problem but can be very distressing and have a big impact on your life. It can often start during teenage years. For some people it can better as they get older. For others it does not go away on its own without treatment. Social Anxiety is more than shyness. It is a fear that does not go away and affects everyday activities, self-confidence and work or school life.
- worry about everyday activities, such as meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working or shopping
- avoid or worry a lot about social activities, such as group conversations, eating with company and parties
- always worry about doing something you think is embarrassing, such as blushing, sweating or appearing incompetent
- find it difficult to do things when others are watching – you may feel like you’re being watched and judged all the time
- fear being criticised, avoid eye contact or have low self-esteem
- often have symptoms like feeling sick, sweating, trembling or a pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
- have panic attacks, where you have an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety, usually only for a few minutes
COPING WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY
- Try to understand more about your anxiety. Think about or write down what goes through your mind and how you behave in certain social situations. It can help to keep a diary.
- Relaxation techniques, such as breathing techniques.
- Break down challenging situations into smaller parts and work on feeling more relaxed with each part.
- Focus on what people are saying, rather than assuming the worst.