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Social Anxiety

Anxiety can take many different forms, but one of the most common is social anxiety. Learn about the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical symptoms that suggest social anxiety is becoming a problem.

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Thoughts add

  • Believe other people will judge you negatively (for example, you can’t do things well, you’re clumsy or you’re not smart).
  • Worry a lot about almost any social event.
  • Think others see you as boring or uninteresting to be with.
  • Worry you might do something embarrassing, say the wrong thing or that others will laugh at you.
  • Think others will notice that you’re nervous, sweating or blushing.
  • Go over and over conversations or recent social situations in your mind, and what you “should” have said or done differently.

Feelings add

  • Feel very stressed if others are watching you, especially people you don’t know.
  • Want to make more friends or socialize more, but fear stops you.
  • Feel very upset or even panicked when you are the centre of attention.
  • Have an unexpected rush of fear in social situations.

Behaviours add

  • Stay quiet or hide in the background so others won’t notice you.
  • Sit alone or stay away from people to avoid having to talk with others.
  • Avoid situations that involve a group of people, especially if they include people you don’t know.
  • Spend most of your time at home or places where there aren’t any other people.
  • Prefer to interact through online chat groups than face-to-face.
  • Freeze up when you talk with someone you don’t know.
  • Avoid eye contact with others.
  • Freeze, have trouble getting words out or avoid speaking in public.

Physical Signs add

  • Blushing, redness in the face and neck.
  • Sweat a lot or have sweaty hands.
  • Shake or tremble.
  • Dry throat.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Feel dizzy.
  • Heart starts racing or breathing becomes faster.
  • Shaky voice or stumble over words.

Remember, symptoms are changes from your usual routines or habits. Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms or to the same level. Most people experience these symptoms from time to time but they become a problem when they keep coming back or don’t go away. They can also indicate there is a physical health problem.

There are many different ways anxiety is experienced if this doesn’t sound like what you’re experiencing check out the Anxiety section.

Concerned about someone else?

It can be hard to understand why a friend worries so much, even over stuff that doesn’t seem to matter. One person’s worry about may seem silly to another, but each person’s worry or anxiety is real to them. It doesn’t help to tell them to not worry so much. For information on how to help a friend, visit Supporting a Friend.

Families are often the first to notice changes and become concerned. For information on how to support young people, visit Supporting a Family Member.

What Next?

If you want to find out if this is something you are experiencing or are looking for tips to help manage anxiety here are a few options.