If you have always been called shy by others, chances are you consider it to be a part of your personality. Some people certainly prefer to be more quiet than others. But often, shyness is an indicator of social anxiety.
The good news is that there are excellent treatments for social anxiety disorders. Even if you get extremely anxious or even panicked before or in social situations, you can work towards feeling comfortable in yourself no matter what the scenario.
The first step, however, is exploring whether you have a social anxiety disorder. While this diagnosis requires a proper evaluation by a mental health professional, these social anxiety symptoms are indicators that you might benefit from professional help.
Many social anxiety symptoms are emotional and impact your behavior. Do you experience any of the following?
- Fear that others are judging you
- Fear of talking to strangers
- Anxiety, fear, or panic before attending social events
- Avoidance of social events or events where you will be the center of attention
- Difficulty speaking to others because you “don’t know what to say”
- Fear of being seen sitting alone at social events or among groups of people
- Imagining everything that could go wrong before entering a social situation
- Analyzing everything you think you did wrong after a social situation
- Fear that others will notice your anxiety
Some of the most distressing social anxiety symptoms are physical. While social anxiety disorder is considered a mental illness, mental and physical health can never be mutually exclusive.
- Sweating (often visibly)
- Fast heartbeat
- Dry mouth
- Physical tension
- Trouble catching your breath
Social anxiety vs common nerves
Nearly everyone feels anxiety or nerves in certain social situations. However, someone with social anxiety disorder will experience a number of the above symptoms in most social situations. There will be certain scenarios where you do not experience these symptoms – such as when you are with people you are comfortable with – but these are the exception rather than the rule.
Many of the above social anxiety symptoms are linked, so it is possible many or all of them are familiar to you. Remember, self-diagnosis can be problematic. If you experience some of the above symptoms, book a session with a mental health professional to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Being diagnosed with social anxiety disorder is not a bad thing. On the contrary, many people feel a huge weight taken off them when they receive this diagnosis. You learn that you are not alone, and that distress you may have considered an inevitable part of your day-to-day life can be treated.
There are millions of Americans with social anxiety. You don’t have to suffer alone and, with help, social anxiety no longer has to cause you suffering.