Feeling nervous in certain social interactions when we are subject to the attention of others, such as public speaking or job interviews, is a normal human condition that we all experience from time to time, regardless of whether those people are familiar or unfamiliar to us. On the other hand, some social interactions can generate irrational and intense fear and anxiety for a person who suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder (otherwise known as Social Phobia) and these feelings can significantly affect their ability to carry out and enjoy their day-to-day life.
Social Anxiety Disorder is evident where a person is fearful of (i) saying or doing the wrong thing during a social interaction, and (ii) negative judgement or humiliation from others. They may feel disconcerted, like a lesser person and despondent following a difficult social interaction. In some cases, a person suffering from social phobia will actively avoid certain social situations that induce feelings of intense fear and anxiety.
In Part One of our two-part series, i.e. ‘Social Anxiety – Part One: What Is Social Anxiety?’, we covered the potential causes of social anxiety as well as social situations which may induce social anxiety. You can access this article by clicking here.
In this article (Part Two), we shall discuss in detail the signs and symptoms (physical, emotional and behavioural) that may be experienced by an individual suffering from social anxiety disorder.
Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety
There is a wide array of signs and symptoms a person battling social anxiety may experience before, during and/or after a challenging social interaction, and they may differ from one person to the next. These signs and symptoms may be physical, emotional or behavioural in nature, and when experienced by a social phobia sufferer during a difficult social interaction (particularly when noticed by another person), can leave them feeling embarrassed and may exacerbate their anxiety.
Physical Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety
An individual suffering from social phobia may experience some or all of the following physical signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder:
-increased heart rate and/or heart palpitations
-tightness in the chest
-rapid/shallow breathing or shortness of breath
-dizziness or light-headedness
-uneasy stomach or a feeling of “butterflies”
-nausea or diarrhoea
-increased need to use the bathroom
-stiffness or muscle tension
-trembling or shaking
-stuttering when it is your turn to speak
-forgetting what you wish to say or do
-speaking too quietly
-shaky or trembling voice
-a feeling of panic and/or a need to escape the situation
Emotional Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety
A social situation that ignites feelings of intense fear and anxiety may induce the following feelings for a person suffering from social anxiety disorder:
-worry about feeling embarrassed or humiliated
-feeling out of place
-a fear of physical symptoms and/or other people noticing your anxiety
-inferiority or feeling lesser than other people
-hypersensitive regarding the criticism of others
-a lack of self-esteem
Behavioural Signs And Symptoms Of Social Anxiety
A person battling social anxiety disorder may experience some or a combination of the following behavioural signs and symptoms of social phobia:
-often/always expecting the worst possible scenario or consequences of a social situation
-a feeling of pressure to behave the “right” way in a certain interaction
-avoiding initiating conversation with others
-focusing heavily on how you yourself are speaking or acting, rather than other people or the conversation/task at hand
-having difficulty being assertive when necessary
-avoiding eye contact
-standing, sitting or moving self-consciously
-isolating oneself/trying to avoid the attention of others
-leaving an event before its conclusion
-avoidance of particular social interactions
-holding back from certain activities you wish to undertake during a social activity
-ruminating about a social interaction after its completion (re: what you said or how you performed)
-having difficulty going about day-to-day life (due to the desire to avoid certain social interactions)
-substance abuse in order to “feel relaxed” (e.g. excessive alcohol consumption)
As you can see, a person suffering from social anxiety disorder may experience any number of different signs and symptoms, whether they are physical, emotional and/or behavioural. It is extremely important to seek professional help where social phobia is present, in order to fully recover this mental health illness. With professional help and assistance, a person suffering from social anxiety can begin to face and eventually overcome challenging social situations, rather than avoiding them.
Get in touch with our friendly team at Brain Wellness Spa today for professional help for your anxiety.