Social anxiety is something we all experience at one time or another in our lives. It’s when we feel worry, fear, apprehension or nervousness regarding being in a social setting where others will see us. There are different kinds and degrees of social anxiety. Some experience a real fear of speaking or performing in public. Some individuals are shy, which is a form of a physiological problem, which may result in excessive blushing or sweating. People that are very shy like this may often feel that others are looking at them negatively, so they may avoid certain circumstances.
Many individuals will eventually get over some of their social anxiety and eventually learn to relax and enjoy themselves in public. While they may not turn into social butterflies, they are able to be out in public around others. Unfortunately, there are those that never get over their social anxiety, have what is known as social phobia or social anxiety disorder, and need to seek the help of mental health professionals.
Some people believe that shyness and social anxiety is a hereditary trait, while others believe it’s a learned thing. Some of us are very shy around strangers while others enjoy being around strangers and in social settings. You may have seen many young children hide behind their parents when greeted by strangers or not members of the immediate family. Many times, they outgrow this as they get older. However, some times this anxiety stays with them as they get older often getting worse. A child’s development as well as surroundings often determine how and if a shy child will remain shy as they grow older.
It’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between shyness and social anxiety. Normal shyness goes away or lessens with age and practice while social anxiety seems to worsen over time. Social anxiety will cause extreme distress as well as the inability to even function in a social setting. The person that suffers from social anxiety constantly feels they are being watched and judged negatively by others. These feelings may be real, but are usually exaggerated in their mind. Statistics show that over 13% of the population suffers from social anxiety at one time or another.
Some of the symptoms of social anxiety are trembling, sweating, blushing, nausea, palpitations and stuttering. Some individuals may even experience panic attacks.
Psychotherapy has been known to be quite helpful for the individual suffering from social anxiety. Whether it’s individual therapy or as part of a group, psychotherapy combined with cognitive behavior therapy can be quite helpful.