Are You Paralyzed by Social Anxiety? Learn the Best Ways to Manage It.

Are You Paralyzed by Social Anxiety? Learn the Best Ways to Manage It.

Do you have a friend who always bails when you make plans? They may not be trying to avoid you. That can happen when people have social anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a long-term mental health issue. It affects millions in the U.S., says the National Institute of Mental Healthleaving site icon

On one end of the scale, there is “normal” nervousness. It might be the way you feel speaking before a crowd, going on a first date or starting a new job. On the other end, there is a full-blown panic attack. Social anxiety disorder lies somewhere in between, but normal day-to-day events become paralyzing.

People with social anxiety often have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Feel self-consciousness
  • Fear being judged
  • Worry for days or weeks about an upcoming event or activity
  • Tremble, sweat
  • Experience dizziness, nausea or headaches
  • Avoid places or events where there will be people

Social anxiety can be selective. For example, a person may not feel anxious speaking in public. Yet, the thought of eating or drinking in public may be debilitating. Luckily, anxiety can be managed with professional therapy, self-help and medication.

If you suffer from anxiety, you are not alone. Your best plan of action is to learn about it. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Just like asthma and any other health problem, anxiety can be managed. Things can be different with just a little help.

If someone you love suffers from anxiety, be patient and understanding. Most of all, be there for them.

Source: Social Anxiety Disorder: More Than Just Shyness, leaving site icon National Institutes of Mental Health, 2022

Originally published: June 10, 2015; Revised 2020, 2022, 2024