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September 25, 2018

Seven signs you may have a social anxiety disorder

Mental Health Anxiety

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Person eating alone in a restaurant Ismail Hamsah/

Anxiety is a common affliction affecting millions of American adults each year. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population experiences one type of anxiety disorder or another during their lifetime. While generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent form of anxiety, social anxiety disorder is widespread, as well. Understanding the symptoms — and recognizing when to seek help — are important steps in the healing process.

Social anxiety disorder, sometimes known as social phobia, is characterized by overwhelming fear and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social scenarios. This type of phobia may be limited to a specific type of situation, like speaking in front of a large crowd, for example, or it may be so severe that the sufferer experiences symptoms whenever they interact with other people.

Here are seven key behavioral indicators that may point to a social anxiety disorder:

1. Withdrawing from social events

Declining invitations or skipping events that you fear might make you feel uncomfortable or awkward is a chief symptom of social anxiety. Many sufferers feel that if they avoid these situations, they can escape their anxiety altogether.

2. Fear of meeting new people

Most people don’t necessarily love the idea of interacting with complete strangers, but for those dealing with social anxiety, meeting new people can be particularly difficult.

3. Oversensitivity to criticism

Encountering negative feedback is always a challenge, but this is especially true if you experience social anxiety. This disorder can cause you to be overly sensitive to criticism and may even dissuade you from taking a risk or seizing a potentially rewarding opportunity due to fear of failure or embarrassment.

4. Low self-esteem

Many anxiety disorders are correlated to low self-esteem, and social anxiety is no different. Sufferers often struggle with self-image issues, which only become exacerbated when combined with other symptoms like nervousness, depression, and fear of social situations.

5. Perceived as quiet or shy

Those on the outside looking in may label social anxiety sufferers as being intentionally quiet or withdrawn. In reality, most people dealing with social anxiety long for companionship, yet are unable to communicate or connect with others.

6. Experience physical symptoms

Social anxiety affects your mind and your body. Heart palpitations, excessive sweating, dry throat, dizziness, and trembling are the physical symptoms of mental distress.

7. Fear of judgement

Much of the fear felt by those enduring social anxiety is tied to the idea of being embarrassed or judged by others. Sometimes this fear is rational, but other times it is not. For example, you may perceive someone is staring or frowning at you when in reality, they are truly not. Being concerned about how others view you is part of human nature, but when worrisome thoughts interfere with your ability to relate or talk to other people, it may be a sign that you have some degree of social anxiety.

Even though anxiety is highly treatable, research shows that less than half of sufferers receive proper medical care. If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, or if you are having difficulty managing stress, it is important to seek the assistance of a doctor, therapist, or trained counselor.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.

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