Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, means social anxiety affects your life and prevents you from participating in everyday social events in your personal or work life.
What causes social anxiety disorder?
It is not uncommon to feel nervous in some social situations. For some people, having to do a presentation at work or host a function where they become the centre of attention can cause acute and overwhelming anxiety. Others find that meeting new people or having to confront someone about an issue can be distressing.
Many people learn to manage their anxiety in these situations and develop ways of minimising the physical symptoms. For someone with social anxiety disorder, these fears and physical symptoms may be much more extreme and they may need some help to manage.
Social anxiety symptoms
Common anxiety symptoms such as excessive sweating, a pounding rapid heartbeat, nausea, shaking, blushing and stammering can be particularly stressful for someone with social anxiety disorder since these symptoms reinforce feelings of embarrassment and fear.
There are techniques for dealing with social anxiety; learning about them could be helpful for you or someone you know. Psychological counselling or medication can also help.
Not sure what to do next?
If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues, try healthdirect’s Symptom Checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
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Last reviewed: August 2019