Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Everyone feels anxious or shy occasionally, especially when meeting new people or in new situations. Some of us feel very anxious quite often socially. Worry or feelings of dread or discomfort about social interactions is called social anxiety.

Frequently, what fuels this state of anxiousness is an underlying concern that other people will judge us negatively and won't like us or accept us.

I used to feel extremely anxious prior to any social interaction until I learned and practiced effective strategies to reduce my own anxious thoughts & physical symptoms and enhance my social skills.

I spent most of my time alone or on my computer working away, always with an excuse for why I needed to stay away. It definitely reduced my life to a very small existance and I was unhappy but too afraid.

Physical, Mental & Behavioral Symptoms Social Anxiety Disorder

If anxiety about social interaction is so frequent, intense, disturbing, and distressing that it significantly interfers with your lifestyle and the quality of your life, you may be diagnosed with "social anxiety disorder" or "social phobia".

Only a doctor can actually give you a firm diagnosis by evaluating you against specific symptoms social anxiety disorder, but you can get a fairly good idea just by taking a look at the symptoms yourself.

Whether or not you actually have a disorder or not really doesn't matter as much as defining for yourself how much the symptoms bother you and limit your life.

Take a look at the following symptoms of social anxiety disorder and see if they apply to you.

Negative Thought Patterns

Social anxiety disorder is partly caused by us having persistant negative anxiety provoking thoughts about ourselves and repeating them over and over again in our minds as though they were true.

Examples of these thoughts might be:

  • "No one will like me."
  • "I look weird."
  • "I am not good enough."
  • "People will realize how boring and stupid I am."
  • "No one will want to be my friend or even talk to me because I am not as exciting as the others."
  • "I am a freak."
  • "I won't have anything to say."
  • "Everyone will notice how anxious I am."
  • "They won't want to talk to me again."
  • "Everyone is watching me and are judging me."
  • "I will stand by myself the whole time and look more and more foolish."

These types of thoughts are actually symptoms social anxiety disorder, but can be controlled and managed with knowledge and practice.

Physical Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Anxious thoughts we have in turn cause physical sensations and reactions. The most common physical and physiological symptoms social anxiety disorder include:

  • unwanted and uncontrollable blushing
  • fast heartbeat, pounding heartbeat
  • sweaty hands
  • trembling or shaking - especially hands and legs
  • feeling dizzy or feeling like you may faint
  • sensation of not being able to breathe, not enough air
  • dry mouth

Anxious Behavior Patterns

Anxious behaviors are usually triggered by feelings of anxiety or are used as coping mechanisms in an effort to reduce anxious feelings. However, they can can also make the anxiety worse over time.

If we are anxious socially we tend to try to give ourselves a break and try to avoid feeling uncomfortable - or terrified! - by avoiding situations or engaging in safety or busy behaviors that provide us with an excuse for not interacting with others.

Anxious behaviors that are symptoms exhibited by those with social anxiety disorder can include:

  • declining invitations to social events such as parties or meetings
  • going to places at unusual times when we expect no one else will be there
  • becoming ill or making ourselves feel ill due to extreme anxiety
  • making excuses to ourselves and others as to why we cannot attend today - too windy, too crowded, waiting for a delivery, expecting an important email, too tired, feeling a headache coming on, nothing to wear, feel too fat, etc
  • leaving events early
  • excessive grooming in preparation for a social encounter, often resulting in late or missed attendance
  • Avoiding specific social situations
  • Only going to "safe" places or only being with "safe" people
  • Using cellular phones, MP3 players, books, newspapers, magazines or other items intently in order to seem too occupied to be in a conversation
  • Asking others for re-assurance
  • Saying sorry excessively
  • Escaping to the washroom, buffet or bar to avoid standing alone or talking to people

Social Anxiety Symptom Triggers

Social anxiety can be triggered by a wide variety of potential situations. The most common interpersonal situations that cause all of us some degree of discomfort are:

  • public speaking
  • speaking on the telephone
  • meeting new people
  • going on a date
  • making conversation
  • eating alone in a public place
  • eating with others around
  • parties
  • speaking up at a meeting or in front of the class
  • having someone watch you work
  • keeping a conversation going
  • making small talk
  • making eye contact
  • job interviews, performance appraisal interviews

If you would like to learn more about social anxiety disorder, you may want complete one of the common standardized tests for symptoms social anxiety disorder such as the LIEBOWITZ SOCIAL ANXIETY SCALE (LSAS).

Tests such as these measure the degree and frequency of symptoms social anxiety disorder and the degree to which they are impacting your quality of life.

Find out more about symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Do you need medication for it?

Self hypnosis techniques for social anxiety

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