Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder in which a person feels anxious and uncomfortable when having to engage in social situations. People with social anxiety are affected at varying degrees, and some feel so nervous about interacting with others that they actively try to avoid people and social situations. It is difficult to live with social anxiety. Those with social anxiety do not want to feel isolated and alone, but the anxious feelings they have about social interaction can be overwhelming.

What is It Like to Have Social Anxiety?

There are several types of situations that can cause social anxiety, like:

  • Meeting new people
  • Working with people
  • Making small talk
  • Group gatherings or celebrations
  • Crowds
  • Public speaking
  • Being the center of attention
  • Performing
  • Confrontation
  • Dating
  • Sticking up for oneself
  • Being in public

Any of these situations have the potential to make a person with social anxiety feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme self-consciousness
  • Self-doubt
  • Drinking or drug use in effort to relieve anxious feelings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Attempts to remain unnoticed by others
  • Excessive worrying about social situations
  • Obsessive concerns about coming off as strange, awkward, or uncomfortable to others
  • Avoiding social situations
  • Limited social circle to a small number of peers
  • Intense nervousness in social situations
  • Fear of judgment from others

Is Social Anxiety Curable?

There is no absolute way to cure social anxiety. Social anxiety is an ongoing issue that reflects more than just its symptoms. Social anxiety is the result of genetic, social, behavioral and environmental factors that affect the way an anxious person relates to others. However, even though there is no cure for social anxiety there are ways to learn how to cope with and even overcome social anxiety.

Professionals have found the following methods to be effective for managing social anxiety:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is useful because it teaches you to how to prevent your insecurities from fueling your thoughts and behavior when in social situations.
    • Cognitive Reconstruction. Cognitive reconstruction will teach you how to challenge negative anxious thoughts to reduce anxiety. To challenge your negative thoughts you will be asked to identify the evidence that supports and disproves the anxious thoughts that provoke the social anxiety.
    • Exposure Therapy. Exposure therapy is an exercise in which you slowly confront each of your triggers in simulation exercises. Such exercises can include role playing, speaking on a telephone, or engaging with group exercises.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Dialectical behavioral therapy helps you understand how reacting through emotions can affect your thoughts and behavior. It focuses on mindfulness exercises and teaches interpersonal effectiveness skills that are helpful for social situations.
    • Mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness exercises will teach you how to prevent your emotions and anxiety from controlling how you behave in social situations.
    • Interpersonal effectiveness skills. Interpersonal effectiveness skills teach you how to handle social situations in ways that minimize anxiety and conflict with others.

Even though there is not a cure for social anxiety it is still possible to overcome it. If you feel you are struggling with social anxiety try speaking to a mental health professional. They are well equipped with the tools you need to learn how to manage and overcome your social anxiety.