Signs of social anxiety

The signs of social anxiety can vary from person to person, making it challenging to reach a conclusive diagnosis in some cases.

Shy girl At the heart of the problem lies a fear of being judged or scrutinized by others. Many people with social anxiety are "shy". However, some people with social anxiety can come across as very outgoing and extroverted in certain situations. An example is the actors and celebrities who are known to have social anxiety, yet spend much of their lives in the spotlight.

The following situations can be particularly confronting for those with social anxiety:

  • Catching up with old friends
  • Meeting new people or going to parties
  • Speaking on the phone
  • Applying for new jobs and going to job interviews
  • Asking for what you want in relationships
  • Interacting with sales people (e.g. returning an unwanted item)
  • Talking to authority figures
  • Talking to people they find sexually attractive
  • Speaking in front of an audience (public speaking)
  • Eating, drinking or writing in public
  • Publicly disagreeing with others
  • Being the center of attention

Another common symptom is the tendency for an individual to doubt their ability to make a strong impression on others, despite the desire to do so. Some people seek constant reassurance of acceptance, while others engage in "innocent" behaviors, such as always smiling politely, agreeing with everything, frequent head nodding, or always excusing or apologizing for their actions.

Many people with social anxiety have very high standards for their own social performance. For example, they may have self-imposed rules such as "I must always be articulate", or "I must never make a mistake in front of other people".

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