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What is social anxiety disorder?

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We all know the feeling of being nervous or uncomfortable in a social situation. Maybe you’ve clammed up when meeting someone new or gotten sweaty palms before making a big presentation. Public speaking or walking into a roomful of strangers isn’t exactly thrilling for everybody, but most people can get through it.

If you have social anxiety disorder, though, the stress of these situations is too much to handle. You might avoid all social contact because things that other people consider “normal” -- like making small talk and eye contact -- make you so uncomfortable. All aspects of your life, not just the social, could start to fall apart as a result.

Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) is one of the most common mental disorders, so if you have it, there’s hope. The tough part is being able to ask for help. Here’s how to know if your social silence has gone beyond shyness to a point where you need to see a doctor.

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Social Anxiety Disorder.”

Andrew Kukus Foundation for Social Anxiety : “What is social anxiety?”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: “Social Anxiety Disorder.”

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari on May 20, 2019

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Social Anxiety Disorder.”

Andrew Kukus Foundation for Social Anxiety : “What is social anxiety?”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: “Social Anxiety Disorder.”

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari on May 20, 2019

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When does social anxiety occur?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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