Social Anxiety Diagnosis
Social Anxiety Diagnosis
Taking a social anxiety test can help establish a diagnosis, a pivotal part of managing negative symptoms.
Table of Contents
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety, otherwise known as social phobia, is a symptom characterized by an extreme fear of judgement, negativity, or rejection in situations that require socializing and interacting with other people. Social anxiety can lead to isolation, a severe lack of confidence, and many other negative consequences. With that, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of social anxiety so that diagnosis and a treatment plan can be administered.1
Defining Social Anxiety
Social anxiety can be defined by how a person experiences a stress or panic reaction in response to participating in social environments. Each person may experience different symptoms of this disorder, but nearly all will feel anxiety surrounding social situations.
What Is Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia?
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a disorder that can be identified by a fear of socializing and common interaction with other people. People with this disorder typically feel social anxiety frequently, to the point where it negatively impacts their lives.
Several common psychological, physical, and behavioral symptoms can act as identifiers for social anxiety disorder.2
Since anxiety is a psychological disorder, there are several psychological symptoms you can look out for when determining whether you’re struggling with social anxiety disorder.
Negative Beliefs About Yourself
Holding negative beliefs about yourself, especially if they are untrue, is a common psychological symptom found in people experiencing social anxiety. Obsessive thoughts and overthinking are common actions of those diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
If you carry an overall negative bias throughout your daily life, this can signify social anxiety disorder. Social disorders can significantly impact the way you view the world, and an untreated disorder can cause you to become a pessimistic person.
Automatic and Intrusive Negative Thoughts
If you automatically have negative thoughts, this can signify that you’re suffering from a social anxiety disorder. Many people experiencing social anxiety will notice a depletion in their positivity and overall mood.
Muscle tension is a common physical symptom that can arise when experiencing a panic attack. When the body is in a state of panic and extreme anxiety, this can lead to tension within the muscles.
Experiencing frequent headaches is typical for people diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. These anxiety headaches occur due to tension within the body.
Tightness in Your Chest
Feeling a tightness in your chest can indicate that you’re currently suffering from an anxiety attack or severe social anxiety symptoms. This tightness is part of the body’s panic response to an anxiety-inducing situation.
An anxiety attack can also cause a person to experience dry mouth and extreme levels of thirst. This happens because the stress response affects the body’s saliva production levels.
Increased Heart Rate
Increased heart rate is a symptom that commonly arises during panic attacks or social anxiety episodes. During an anxiety attack, adrenaline is released into the body, leading to an increased heart rate.
A person dealing with social anxiety may find difficulty breathing during the onset of an anxiety attack. When the body becomes tense and overwhelmed, taking deep breaths can be difficult, leading to a panicked feeling.
Untreated social anxiety disorder can lead to noticeable (and often unpleasant) changes in a person’s behavior.
Avoidance of Certain Social Situations
If you suddenly find yourself avoiding certain social situations but are unsure why, you may be dealing with social anxiety. Avoidance of certain social situations can indicate that you’re not comfortable in these environments, regardless of how basic the environment is.
Diminished Time with Friends
Sudden shifts in behavior, like cutting people off and not spending as much time with friends, can indicate that a person is struggling with social anxiety disorder. These changes can signify that a person is feeling anxious and withdrawing.
Behaving in Ways That Protect Them from the Realization of Triggers
Behaving in ways that protect you from realizing your fears can signify that you’re facing anxiety issues, and you may be diagnosed with a social disorder. Understanding your fears and triggers is essential to avoiding anxiety attacks and social isolation.
When Does Social Anxiety Happen?
Social anxiety happens in everyday social situations that trigger a fearful response within a person suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Talking to Strangers
A fear of talking to strangers is commonly associated with social anxiety disorder. Many people experience this fear of saying the wrong things or embarrassing themselves, avoiding talking to strangers altogether.
Speaking in Public
Speaking in public is a typical fear of people who have been diagnosed with a social disorder. Lack of confidence is a common sign of social anxiety, and a fear of public speaking is often a tell-tale sign of a person lacking confidence.
Dating can be especially challenging for people dealing with social anxiety. Making intimate connections and holding a conversation is often challenging for those diagnosed with social disorders.
Making Eye Contact
If a person avoids making eye contact in everyday social situations, this may indicate that they are experiencing symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Lack of eye contact is often a sign of discomfort, anxiety, and disconnect from a conversation.
Entering a room full of people, especially strangers, is especially difficult for people who have been diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder. A socially anxious person typically will not have the confidence to enter a crowded room independently.
How Can It Affect Your Life?
Social anxiety disorders can significantly negatively affect your life if the disorder is left untreated. Here are some different adverse effects of social anxiety disorder:
- Low self-esteem: Low self-esteem is a common experience in people suffering from social anxiety disorder.
- Negative thoughts: Frequently occurring negative thoughts are a symptom of social anxiety disorder that can significantly impact a person’s overall mood.
- Depression: Many people diagnosed with social anxiety disorder will also experience symptoms of depression and an extreme lack of motivation.
- Sensitivity to criticism: High sensitivity to criticism can indicate that a person suffers from social anxiety disorder.
- Poor social skills that don’t improve: Poor social skills that don’t improve are often tell-tale signs of a social anxiety disorder diagnosis.
Anxiety diagnosis can only be completed by a trained medical professional who has an in-depth knowledge of mental health and social disorders. Typically, patients will receive a social anxiety disorder test to determine their diagnosis.
Therapies for Anxiety
Therapy is one of the most common treatments for anxiety and social disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and exposure therapy are all different types of therapies that have proven effective in managing social anxiety disorder.
Medication for Anxiety
Medication treatment is an option for people who have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. The most commonly prescribed drugs for social anxiety disorder are SSRIs and beta-blockers. These medications can alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression by altering the brain’s chemistry.