Social Anxiety Definition

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Here’s what defines the meaning of Social Anxiety or Social Phobia

Social Anxiety Definition

Feeling nervous or shy in some situations is normal, and most people experience these feelings at different times.

But if your shyness or nervousness is described as intense, makes you physically ill or stops you from engaging in normal things in life, you may have Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as Social Phobia).

People with Social Anxiety Disorder fear being seen by, or having to perform in front of others. They fear being judged, rated poorly and criticised, and they think others will laugh at them and make them feel humiliated. They believe they will be thought of by other people as awkward, boring, stupid, socially inadequate or strange. They fear and avoid social interaction, speaking to people they don’t know, and sometimes even have difficultly speaking to people they do know.

Social Anxiety may present for a person in all situations and with all people, but it may also present in only some specific situations and with some people.

Many people with Social Anxiety Disorder fear that others will find out about their secret as they assume their physical symptoms are obvious to all. Severe sufferers may experience a range of physical symptoms including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Blushing
  • Physical shaking
  • Verbal stuttering
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Quick or difficulty in breathing
  • Hives
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive need to urinate
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint

In an attempt to ease the discomfort, sufferers may also display behaviours like:

  • Wringing hands together
  • Darting eye movement, avoiding eye contact, looking to the ground
  • Pacing or walking too quickly
  • Speaking too much, too fast or speaking overly quietly to avoid being noticed
  • Talking over the top of others
  • Scratching, yawning and sniffing excessively
  • Asking irrelevant questions
  • Talking off-topic
  • Avoiding answering questions, ignoring the speaker
  • Displaying aggression
  • Crying

Common thoughts for Social Anxiety sufferers include:

  • I won’t be able to do it
  • I know I’ll say something to humiliate myself
  • I’ll embarrass myself somehow
  • They’ll all think I’m stupid
  • Everyone will be able to see how dysfunctional I am
  • They’ll hate the work I’ve done
  • They’ll all think I’m a freak
  • I won’t be able to keep my sweating under control
  • I’ll probably have a panic attack
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