Social Anxiety Disorder Help – Symptoms & Treatment

Chances are you know someone with social anxiety disorder.  The statistics around this mental illness are quite staggering, with more than fifteen million people suffering – that is almost 7% of population (United States).  Social anxiety disorder is marked by severe apprehension about social situations, stemming from fear of criticism or judgment.  There is a huge misconception that social anxiety disorder simply equates to introversion or shyness.  Yet this is hugely inaccurate.  Social anxiety disorder is a mental illness, which, can cause significant impacts to one’s daily functioning. Individuals who suffer from social anxiety tend to experience emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. The good news is, there are ways you can limit and even defeat social anxiety through simple principles & actions.

Emotional Symptoms


Imagine trying to fall asleep at night and reviewing the day’s events, and only remembering the negative.  Those who suffer from social anxiety often ask themselves questions like “what mistakes did I make today?” or   “how did I embarrass myself?” In essence, they tend to evaluate each social interaction and condemn what was inadequate.  This self-critical nature creates a vicious cycle, as it only tends to fuel the social anxiety.

Intense Worry:

Socially anxious individuals often ruminate about upcoming social events, or even routine errands, like going to the grocery store.  The rumination leads to intrusive thoughts, evoking feelings of nervousness, apprehension, and fear.  The panicky feelings frequently progress into full-blown panic attacks.

Behavioral Symptoms

Remaining Quiet:

Because of the self-critical nature of socially anxious people, the tendency to not want to voice opinions, thoughts, or ideas is common.  This often comes from concern that whatever might be said may not be “correct” or “acceptable.”


No one likes to feel wrought with worry or fear, and people who struggle with social anxiety disorder are the same.  Thus, many use avoidance as a way to not experience the above mentioned feeling.  Socially anxious individuals tend to avoid a variety of common social functions like parties or team activities, and for some, even interactions with close family and friends.

Physical Symptoms

Lack of energy :

Can you imagine having to anticipate and mentally prepare for every possible social interaction or encounter you may have?  Those who suffer with social anxiety deal with this on a daily basis, and it is a real energy-sucker.


The ongoing and constant worry that accompanies social anxiety can create significant muscle tension.  This physical manifestation of anxiety can be quite painful too.    People with social anxiety often go through their day with a clenched jaw, a strained neck, or a stiff back.

Gastrointestinal Issues:

It is widely known in the medical world that the gut is susceptible to emotional stress.  Thus, it is understandable why gastrointestinal upset is a physical symptom common to all anxiety disorders.  The nervousness and unease that accompany anxiety are manifested internally, and unfortunately, if this continues for prolonged periods of time, can progress into irritable bowel syndrome.

How to overcome depression – motivational video:

How To Defeat Social Anxiety Disorder:

These symptoms are a very real part of social anxiety, and unfortunately just a snippet of the potential symptoms that may arise.  Nonetheless, social anxiety is treatable. While traditional psychotherapy and medication are the standard, there are other treatments that do not require the help of a doctor or clinician.  Even when struggling, it is vital people remember the power they have to make changes on their own.

Practice relaxation techniques:

Adding some simple practices into one’s daily routine can naturally combat the stress inherent to social anxiety.  Deep breathing, meditation, and visualization are easy ways to activate the body’s natural relaxation response.

Educate yourself:

As previously stated, social anxiety disorder can be a lonely disease.  This mental illness is rarely talked about, and consequently, very misrepresented.  People often feel like they are the only ones who struggle with social anxiety.  Yet, learning about the disease can create some awareness of how many people actually suffer from social anxiety, helping to ease the loneliness.

Focus on others:  

Social anxiety sufferers, when in social situation, often are focused on themselves and their own behaviors.  The thought is if they are aware of what they are doing, they might better control it, thus potentially easing some anxiety.  In reality, this self-focus only tunes people into the negative feelings they are experiencing.  So, switching from an internal to an external focus can ease some of the undesirable feelings.

Challenge negative thoughts:

Using the “catch – challenge – change” or the three C’s tool is an easy and effective way to manage the negative thoughts that produce much of the anxiety inherent to this disorder.  Catch (or identify) when you are having a negative thought; Challenge that thought (explore what evidence you possess for having that thought in the first place); Change the thought (either to something neutral or positive)

Try this guided meditation to overcome Anxiety:

Set Goals:

The process of setting goals in your personal life, financial and or health/body can be a huge positive for anyone suffering from anxiety of any kind. Having purpose, something to look to is a great way to distance yourself from your misguided thoughts and create new, strong mental patterns.

Read, Read, Read:

What you think and believe you become. If you are focusing mostly on positive things, learning mostly positive things about how us humans operate, diving deep into self development, you will most likely soon start to lose some of your social worries and anxieties. The more you focus on something else positive the less you will be worried about your anxiety.

Make fun of yourself:

Yep, that’s what i said. Those who suffer from social anxiety are usually always worried about what others might think of them. If you can be light about your perceived flaws and take the Mickey out of yourself, there will be no need to fear what anyone else might think. You don’t have to do this in a way that put’s yourself down, keep it light, keep it fun.

Social anxiety is a deeply personal disorder with the ability to hugely influence ones’ life. Still, each individual sufferer experiences social anxiety differently, and with varying levels of severity.  Thus, the road to recovery (or at least manageability) is different for everyone. If you have social anxiety or depression please speak with a doctor or mental health professional.

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2 Responses

    • Phoebe Howlett

      Kethz, yes you can! Have a look at my guides to anxiety on my site, but if not depending on the country you are from there are many charities that can help with whatever route you need to take!


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