Suffering from nerves in certain social situations is a common enough phenomenon, however breaking out into a sweat at the mere thought of being around other people is more serious than just being a little socially awkward. Social phobia or social anxiety disorder describes the condition whereby a person becomes extremely anxious and stressed when put in social situations, to the point where it has an effect on how they live their life and their daily interactions with people.
Signs of anxiety can be both physical and emotional and may affect your behaviours. Take a look at some of the symptoms below to determine whether you are just a little shy or whether you may actually suffer from a social phobia.
1. You Avoid Certain Situations That Will Trigger You
A person that has been socially anxious in the past will know what makes them feel uncomfortable and uneasy and they will go out of their way to avoid these situations recurring. If you find yourself cancelling appointments, not showing up to certain events or avoiding places where you know you will have to interact with others, you may have a bigger problem than you think.
2. You Build Up Situations In Your Head
One of most common signs of anxiety is that you let your imagination run away from you, thinking up the worst case scenario every time and believing that it will come to fruition. You spend more time worrying that something is going to go wrong or thinking that you make will a fool of yourself than actually trying to overcome your fears.
3. You Have Physical Reactions To Social Situations
Sometimes, particularly in nerve racking situations like interviews or public speaking, we become anxious about our performance and worry about what others will think about us, but for the most part we get on with it and come out the other end just fine. For people with social anxiety disorder however, there will be strong physical symptoms that go along with the nerves and butterflies. These can include a rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, shaking, nausea and shortness of breath. It feels like you’re about to die or that you’ve lost control, making things even harder to deal it.
4. You Stick To What You Know
When you think you are socially awkward the fear of meeting new people can be overwhelming – what will they think of me, how will they react, will I embarrass myself in front of them? These questions can prevent someone with social phobia from dealing with anxiety properly and instead they may choose to stick with the people they are comfortable around who won’t trigger their anxiety. If you find yourself unable to go outside of your close network of friends and family without severe stress and unease, you may have social anxiety.
5. You Over Analyse Situations
You’re not satisfied with just being nervous and stressed before and during social events, you also can’t stop thinking about them after they occur, strictly analysing what you said, how you were perceived and what you think went wrong. Overthinking situations and worrying about your performance is a sure sign that you have some form of social phobia.
Those are just a few examples of signs of anxiety you may experience when you have a fear of social situations, but every case is different and the severity ranges from mild to very severe. If you are able to recognise that you are just nervous and get on with your life you probably have nothing to worry about, but if social anxiety starts to affect your decisions, behaviours, quality of life and ability to interact with others than you may want to seek help or talk to someone about it.