It’s normal to feel shy or uncomfortable in some social situations. However, if an individual avoids everyday social interactions because they experience fear, worry, or panic, they may be experiencing social anxiety. Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is characterized by an intense and pervasive fear of being judged, embarrassed, or rejected. Individuals with social anxiety may worry about interacting with strangers and avoid being the center of attention. During a social interaction, they may experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as shaking, sweating, and increased heart rate; after the interaction, they may ruminate or catastrophize about how the other person perceived them.
While symptoms of social anxiety disorder are most evident by adolescence, symptoms can also be identified in younger children. Youth with social anxiety may cry, tantrum, refuse to respond to questions, or cling to caregivers when expected to interact with others.
Social anxiety may interfere with an individual’s ability to go to make phone calls or interact with staff members in stores, attend social gatherings, make friends, and attend school or work. Overall, social anxiety may seriously limit a person’s quality of life.
Social anxiety-oriented services at BCSC: