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Social Anxiety Symptoms

Social Anxiety Symptoms

Learn about identifying social anxiety symptoms and what treatment options can help you mitigate them.

Table of Contents

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder, also referred to as social phobia, is a disorder that triggers a fear of socializing and interacting with people in everyday situations. This disorder can disrupt a person’s day-to-day lifestyle, relationships, and wellbeing.1

When Does it Happen?

A person may experience social anxiety symptoms when they feel triggered by a social situation or interaction that they must face. Triggers can differ from person to person; some people may have their anxiety triggered by a trip to the grocery store, while gatherings with friends can trigger others. Social anxiety can be persistent throughout an individual’s life, either consistently or in sporadic intervals.

How Does Social Anxiety Disorder Impact One's Lifestyle?

Suffering from social anxiety disorder can negatively impact one’s lifestyle. Even acute social anxiety can cause a person to become withdrawn — avoiding social situations altogether and damaging their relationships with friends, family, and peers. It can interfere significantly with someone’s overall quality of life, causing them to miss out on potential opportunities.

Physical Symptoms

Several physical and psychological symptoms can signify that a person suffers from social anxiety disorder. Here are some signs to look out for during diagnosis:

Experiencing adverse physical symptoms is common when suffering from social anxiety disorder. Anxiety can send the body into fight or flight mode, which triggers physical responses. 


Nausea or an upset stomach can occur when experiencing anxiety symptoms. The stress response caused by social disorders can cause the body to feel unwell and even cause abnormal digestion.

Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating can identify an anxiety attack or social anxiety disorder. This reaction is part of the body’s fight or flight response, instigating a state of tensity that can induce sweating.

Trembling or Shaking

Uncontrollable trembling or shaking of the body is a common sign of social anxiety disorder.2 An anxiety attack can create a nervous system response, which causes the body to release adrenaline and shake uncontrollably.

Difficulty Speaking

A person who frequently has difficulty speaking and communicating may likely be experiencing social anxiety disorder. This nervous response can come from a deep-seated fear that others will judge them negatively if they speak up in conversation.

Dizziness or Light-headedness

Spells of dizziness or light-headedness can occur during anxiety attacks. This is often caused by sudden changes in blood pressure that can take place when a person is experiencing severe social anxiety symptoms.

Rapid Heart Rate

Rapid heart rate is another physical symptom that can arise during a social anxiety attack. When the body is anxious, it can go into a panic, releasing adrenaline and increasing the body’s heart rate and pulse.

Psychological Symptoms

Experiencing adverse psychological symptoms is common when suffering from social anxiety disorder. They are detailed below so you know what symptoms to look out for, either in yourself or others.3

Worrying Intensely About Social Situations

Worrying intensely about social situations without a legitimate reason is a common psychological symptom of social anxiety disorder. This disorder can cause overthinking and unreasonable logic, which leads to excessive worrying.

Worrying For Days or Weeks Before an Event

If you feel overly worried days or weeks before an event, you’re likely experiencing signs of social anxiety disorder. Dreading upcoming events consistently is typically evidence of social phobia and a lack of desire to interact with others.

Avoiding Social Situations or Trying to Blend into the Background

Avoiding social situations or trying to blend into the background if you must attend a social event is a significant red flag signifying social anxiety disorder. This usually indicates that you’re not comfortable in social settings and do what you can to avoid a healthy amount of interaction.

Worrying About Embarrassing Yourself in a Social Situation

Spending lots of time unnecessarily worrying about embarrassing yourself in a social situation could indicate that you suffer from social anxiety disorder.

What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?

Several different environmental factors can cause social anxiety disorder. Typically, this disorder doesn’t manifest on its own and is caused by trauma in one form or another. Examples of causes below include:

  • Bullying: Experiencing bullying, especially at a young age, can create insecurities and fears within a person that can trigger social anxiety disorder in later years.
  • Family conflict: Excessive family conflict is another leading factor in the causes of social anxiety disorder. Frequent turmoil in the household while growing up can lead to anxious behaviors and disorders in adults.
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse is another traumatic event that can trigger social anxiety disorder within a person. This triggering event can cause a person to fear people and intimacy.
  • Emotional abuse: A common cause of social anxiety disorder is emotional abuse. Whether you experienced emotional abuse from family, friends, or peers, this type of experience can give rise to anxiety issues in the future.
social anxiety causes

Diagnosing Social Anxiety Disorder

There are several signs to look out for when diagnosing social anxiety disorder:

Constant Fear of Social Situations

Having an unreasonable constant fear of social situations is a standard indicator of social anxiety disorder. This fear can drive a person to become withdrawn, depressed, and avoidant of situations that involve human interaction.

Feeling Anxious or Panicky Before a Social Interaction

If you’re feeling anxious or panicky before a social interaction, this could be a sign that you’re suffering from social phobias. These feelings are often the body’s fight or flight response that can create a physical stress reaction to a social situation.

A Realization that Your Fears are Unreasonable

To seek treatment, a person must realize that their fears are unreasonable. Doing so will allow them to take the necessary steps to overcome their fears and begin their reintegration into society.

Anxiety that Disrupts Daily Living

Anxiety that disrupts daily living is a sign of social anxiety disorder that must be treated immediately. Untreated social anxiety can lead a person to become withdrawn to the point that they lose their career, destroy their relationships, and neglect their loved ones. 

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

There are several treatments available for people suffering from social anxiety disorder. Treatments range from therapy to natural remedies, and it’s essential to find the right one for your unique experience and symptoms.

Therapies for Anxiety

Therapies can be used to pinpoint the root cause of social anxiety and help an individual learn ways to manage their anxiety symptoms. Three types of therapy are commonly used to treat anxiety: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Medication for Anxiety

Anxiety medication is available to treat the chemical imbalances that can cause anxiety disorders in people. The most used medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac or Zoloft.4

Natural Remedies

Natural remedies are an option for people who don’t wish to undergo medication or therapy treatment for their social anxiety disorders. These remedies can include meditation, yoga, supplements, and aromatherapy.