Do you feel extremely self-conscious or shy in any social situation? Do you avoid situations that involve mingling or speaking with other people? Do you find it hard to speak up your mind? Chances are, yours is not a simple case of shyness—rather, it is a condition known as social anxiety. Every year, about 3.7% of the US adult population or five million Americans have this condition.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety, also called social phobia, is an intense feeling of self-consciousness and shyness that lead to an extreme fear, causing a person to feel discomfort when dealing with people. But these people have no qualms about communicating with their family and close friends.
What are the signs of being socially anxious?
Severe shyness sets in when they have to speak in public, join a group discussion, talk to strangers, or meet new people. It is because they feel awkward doing so and fear getting embarrassed. Aside from that, they fear being noticed, laughed at, or criticized by others. They don’t like to be the center of attention in a group setting. People who have social phobia usually avoid situations that force them to interact with others.
As with other phobias, social anxiety phobia is a fearful response to a non-threatening person or situation. People who have social phobia react as though the threat does exist.
This condition becomes apparent with symptoms such as shortness of breath and palpitations. Such symptoms are a sign of the fight-or-flight response, which is a result of adrenaline rush and the release of other chemicals in the body that prepares it either to escape the situation or to fight. This is the response of the nervous system that alerts danger to people, so they can save themselves from the so-called threat. People with social phobia experience such responses too strongly, too often, and usually in situations in which it is out of place. That said, the threat seems real, so they react by freezing up and not being able to interact with other people.