The essential feature of social anxiety (shyness) is a persistent fear and avoidance of situations in which others expose a person to possible negative scrutiny. In addition, people with social anxiety are afraid of acting in a way that is potentially humiliating or embarrassing.
How social anxiety impacts people
Fear that they will be criticized or embarrassed makes some people avoid certain ordinary social situations. These can include:
- Public speaking
- Going to parties
- Eating in restaurants
- Writing in front of others
- Going on job interviews
- Using public restrooms
People with social anxiety experience avoidance, anxious anticipation or distress in the feared situations, which can interfere significantly with their ability to maintain a normal routine, function well in workplace or educational settings, enjoy social activities or develop fulfilling relationships.
In addition, there is generally a marked distress about having the disorder itself, and the individual frequently realizes that their fear is excessive or unreasonable, compounding their frustrations and discomfort. People with social anxiety feel so threatened by certain social and performance situations that they either avoid them completely, or suffer torment when they can't avoid them.
Social anxiety self assessment quick quiz
Take a moment to answer these quick questions and see if you're at risk for—or currently suffering from—social anxiety:
- Do you experience an intense and persistent fear of social situations where others may judge you in a negative way?
- Are you afraid of being embarrassed or humiliated by your actions?
- Do you fear people will notice you are blushing, sweating, trembling or showing other symptoms of anxiety?
- Are you afraid to do things in front of people, such as public speaking, eating, performing or teaching?
- During the past month, did you either avoid—or feel very uncomfortable in—situations involving people, such as parties, weddings, dates and other social events?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, there's a chance you're suffering from social anxiety. To learn how the Panic/Anxiety/Recovery Center can help you, or to schedule a consultation, please call us at 312-642-7952 or fill out our contact form.