Social Anxiety

What Causes Social Anxiety?

What Causes Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety can negatively impact your life. Learn about the causes, signs, and treatment options available for social anxiety.


Table of Contents

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is a disorder that creates feelings of fear, nervousness, and avoidance around situations that involve social interaction. It affects the lives of many individuals, so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms to best deploy plausible treatment opportunities.1

When Does Social Anxiety Become a Problem?

Untreated social anxiety in public becomes a problem when it interferes with a person’s lifestyle, relationships, and wellbeing. A person dealing with social anxiety disorder is at risk of becoming withdrawn from their career, family, and social life.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?

There are several signs and symptoms to look out for when diagnosing social anxiety disorder.2 These symptoms can be physical, emotional, or behavioral.

Physical Symptoms

Below are some physical symptoms to look out for to determine if someone has a social anxiety disorder:


A person dealing with social anxiety in public may experience excess blushing or redness of the face. This uncontrollable symptom has to do with discomfort and fearful feelings surrounding social situations.

Fast Heartbeat

Fast heartbeat is a symptom commonly attributed to anxiety attacks and social anxiety disorders. When a person is experiencing anxiety, their body may enter a state of panic, leading to an increased heart rate.


Trembling or uncontrollable shaking is a common symptom found in people dealing with extreme social anxiety. The intense nervousness that arises with social disorders brings about these trembling episodes.   


A person enduring an anxiety attack may experience excess sweating, regardless of body temperature. This sweating is a bodily reaction to the fear and nervousness associated with anxiety disorders.

Upset Stomach or Nausea

Upset stomach or nausea is another physical symptom of social anxiety disorders. When experiencing anxiety, the brain creates a fight or flight response which can trigger an upset stomach or irregularity within the digestive system.

Emotional and Behavioral Symptoms

Here are some emotional and behavioural symptoms to look out for to determine if someone has a social anxiety disorder:

Fear of Situations in Which You May be Judged Negatively

If you’re experiencing intense fear of situations in which you may be judged negatively, you’re likely suffering from a social anxiety disorder. Often, these fears are not founded in reality, and these fears are just the brain’s reaction to the anxiety disorder.

Worry About Embarrassing or Humiliating Yourself

Frequently worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself is a common symptom of social anxiety disorder. Anxiety can cause the brain to severely overthink, leading to unnecessary worrying in social situations.

Intense Fear of Interacting or Talking with Strangers

Feeling an intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers is a strong indicator of social phobia. This fear ties into the worry about being embarrassed or humiliated by the outcome of the social interaction.

Afraid that Others will Notice Your Anxiety

If you feel fearful that others will notice that you look anxious, these feelings may develop from a social anxiety disorder. 

Social anxiety

What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?

Three different factors can cause social anxiety disorder: inherited traits, brain structure, and environment. One or all these factors can play a significant role in developing a social anxiety disorder.

Inherited Traits

A person can be genetically predisposed to social anxiety disorder. If you have relatives who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you have an increased risk of receiving the same diagnosis.

Brain Structure

Brain structure can play a significant role in developing a social phobia. Hyperactivity in the amygdala of the brain is a leading cause of social anxiety disorder, so brain structures that are more prone to this hyperactivity are at a higher risk of having an anxiety disorder.


Regardless of a person’s biological dispositions, their environment can also impact mental health significantly to the point of triggering the development of a social anxiety disorder.

Risk Factors of Social Anxiety Disorder

Risk factors are anything that can increase a person’s risk of developing a disease or disorder.3 Here are some risk factors for social anxiety disorder:

Family History

A person with a family history that includes anxiety disorders is likely to be more at risk of developing these disorders. This is because they are more likely to have a brain structure prone to anxiety disorders if it is in their genetic makeup.

Negative Experiences

Frequent negative experiences, especially ones that induce trauma, can increase a person’s risk of developing a social anxiety disorder. Even if a person is not predisposed to mental illness.  


Temperament can play a significant role in whether a person is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. If you have an unstable temperament, you’re at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

New Social or Work Demands

Social anxiety triggers, such as new social or work demands in a person’s life, can increase their risk of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Sudden life changes can trigger stress or panic responses and lead to social anxiety disorder in severe cases. 

Complications With Social Anxiety Disorder

If left untreated, several complications can arise with social anxiety disorder. Here are some examples of the negative impact that social phobia can have on a person’s life:

Low Self-Esteem

Social anxiety disorder is often associated with feelings of low self-esteem. This disorder can impact how a person views themselves and how they relate to others, making them feel unworthy and unconfident. 

Trouble Being Assertive

People diagnosed with social phobia may find that they have trouble being assertive. This happens because the anxiety disorder can make it difficult for a person to have the courage to communicate what they are feeling, which will lead them to stay quiet in situations where they want to speak up.

Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is a common complication associated with social anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can significantly impact how a person views themselves, leading to an uptick in negative self-talk if they are experiencing social phobia symptoms.

Hypersensitivity to Criticism

Hypersensitivity to criticism is typical amongst people dealing with untreated social anxiety disorders. People experiencing social anxiety often feel that people are against them, leading to a hypersensitive reaction to any criticism.

Poor Social Skills

Another complication that can develop from untreated social anxiety is poor social skills. Without proper socialization, a person’s social skills can quickly diminish. 

How Can I Support Myself and Others with a Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder can be challenging to manage without any guidance or support. It’s important to address the root of any underlying issues and the potential treatment options. Awareness and de-stigmatization are the most critical aspects of ensuring support for those with social anxiety disorders. Here are some social anxiety tips to support yourself or others after their diagnosis.

Educate Yourself

Educating yourself about the symptoms and treatment of social anxiety disorder is an excellent way to show support for yourself or a loved one who was recently diagnosed. You can also educate yourself on social anxiety coping skills to learn how to overcome the disorder better.SEO Paid tool crack version


Communicating how you’re feeling can help avoid misunderstandings surrounding issues stemming from social phobia. Whether you’re the person who was diagnosed or you wish to support someone who was diagnosed, using communication can help facilitate overcoming social anxiety for everybody involved.

Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment

There are two common types of social anxiety disorder treatment: medication and therapy.4


Several different medications are available for people dealing with social anxiety disorder. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most frequently used drug for overcoming social anxiety. 


Therapy is great for overcoming social anxiety while also giving a person the tools to manage their symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and exposure therapy are the most successful therapies for treating anxiety disorders.