Social anxiety disorder causes unreasonable,
debilitating fear of being judged or publicly humiliated. You may avoid or
severely limit encounters with other people—which can keep you from daily
activities. You may develop physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat,
shortness of breath, or tightness in your chest when faced with a feared social
When you have social anxiety disorder, common social
situations—such as eating in public, writing in front of other people, using a
public restroom, or speaking in front of others—can cause overwhelming fear and
You may be more afraid of people noticing your
anxiety than of the actual feared situation. A vicious
cycle can emerge of avoiding or worrying about the social event (such as
speaking in public) because you are afraid others will see you as weak,
anxious, or foolish—this, in turn, leads to more anxiety. This may lead to
avoiding or limiting contact with other people.
Symptoms of social
anxiety disorder may differ in adults and children.
Adults and teenagers with social anxiety disorder usually
recognize their fears of being publicly humiliated are unreasonable or
excessive. But children who have this disorder may not.
Anxiety in adults
Expressions of anxiety in adults or adolescents
Having persistent but unreasonable fear of a
situation that involves unfamiliar people or being judged by others. The fear
is that you will be embarrassed or humiliated by something that you say or
Developing severe anxiety or
panic attacks when in the feared
Recognizing that your fears are excessive or
Avoiding social situations that you fear or enduring
them with intense anxiety or distress.
Avoiding or anxiously
anticipating feared situations so much it interferes with daily activities and
Worrying about being embarrassed in front of
their peers but not usually in front of adults or teenagers.
anxiety by frequently crying, throwing tantrums, "freezing" in social
situations, or "shrinking back" from unfamiliar people.
not realizing the fears are excessive or unreasonable.
performance situations, such as having to speak in front of the class. This
fear doesn't come and go. It is continuous and lasts for 6 months or
People with social anxiety disorder often underachieve at work or
at school to avoid the attention of a promotion or to avoid being forced to
participate in a group. They tend to have few friendships and have trouble
dating or developing relationships. In prolonged or severe cases, many people
develop other psychological conditions (such as
Social anxiety disorder
is among several types of
phobias that many people experience, such as
a specific phobia (fearing an object, like a spider, or
a frightening situation, such as being stuck in an elevator).