What are the symptoms of social anxiety disorders?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Symptoms of social anxiety disorders may be physical, behavioral, or both. People with social phobia may experience the following when faced with a social situation:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Excessive fear of meeting new people or intense desire to avoid engaging people in conversation
  • Panicky feelings
  • Intense fear that others can tell they are anxious
  • Flushing
  • Stomach upset (including nausea or diarrhea)
  • Anxiety when faced with situations where they may be judged
  • Trembling

People with social anxiety disorders know their fears are irrational, but they cannot help it. Some sufferers become so anxious that they may avoid social triggers altogether.

Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, can come with irrational fear of certain situations.

David Tolin, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Social anxiety disorder (also called social phobia), is an excessive fear of social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny from others. The person with Social anxiety disorder isn't afraid of people per se; rather, he/she is afraid of acting in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating. So, for example, someone with social phobia might be afraid that he/she will fall down in public while walking, and that everyone will notice and laugh. Or he/she might fear stuttering when giving a speech, or blushing, or sweating, which will cause everyone to know how anxious he/she is. Some people fear eating or writing in public, or using a public bathroom, because of concerns that others are watching and scrutinizing and that this will lead to horrible embarrassment. Some people with social anxiety disorder have a relatively limited range of fears—for example, someone who is just afraid of public speaking but is not afraid of other social or performance situations. Others have what is called a generalized subtype of social anxiety disorder, in which the fears include most social situations (such as initiating or maintaining conversations, dating, talking to authority figures, or going to parties).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.