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. Instead, they may be unsettled by the situation. That can happen when people have social anxiety.

Social Anxiety Disorderalso 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. Maybe how you feel speaking before a crowd, going on a first date or starting a new job. On the other end, there is having a full-blown panic attack. Social anxiety disorder lies somewhere in between, where normal day-to-day events can become paralyzing.

People with social anxiety can have some of these symptoms:

  • Extreme self-consciousness
  • Fear of being judged
  • Worry for days or weeks about an upcoming event or activity
  • Trembling, sweating, dizziness, nausea or headaches
  • Staying away from places or events where there will be people

Social anxiety can be selective. If it’s in one area, like public speaking, it might not be a big problem. But if it’s worrying about eating or drinking in public, it may be debilitating. Luckily, it can be managed with professional therapy, self-help or medication.

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

If someone you love suffers from this health problem, don’t give up on them. They need you to know that they are not weak and would prefer to face things as others do. Don’t judge them. Be patient and understanding. And just be there for them.

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

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