Skip to content

What is Social Anxiety: Signs, Symptoms, and Coping Methods

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

Social situations, especially new and unfamiliar ones, can sometimes make you feel nervous. You might feel a little nervous giving an important presentation at work or giving a speech at a conference. You might also feel nervous going to a party with people you don’t know or going on a date. These situations tend to make the most confident people nervous from time to time.   


When everyday interactions cause intense feelings of nervousness or anxiety, that can be indicative of social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) can affect every aspect of your life and goes beyond the occasional shyness.   Shyness does not mean that you or someone you know has social anxiety. However, if you are experiencing feelings of anxiety and fear that lead to avoidance in your everyday life, including relationships, school, work, or other activities, then it might be a social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety has emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms that might present themselves.   


Physical symptoms of social anxiety may include:  

  • Blushing  
  • Dizziness  
  • Lightheadedness  
  • Fast heartbeat   
  • Sweating  
  • Trembling  
  • Nausea  
  • Upset stomach  
  • Shortness of breath   
  • Muscle tension  
  • Feeling like your mind is going blank  
  • Difficulty making eye contact   


Symptoms of social anxiety disorder can change over time. They might get better or worse depending on the various situations that you encounter day to day. While avoiding certain situations may make you feel better momentarily, they could have lasting negative effects, like anxiety and depression.   


Emotional and behavioral symptoms of social anxiety may include:  

  • Fear of embarrassing yourself   
  • Fear of talking with strangers  
  • Fear of situations where you may be judged   
  • Fear that others will notice how nervous you are   
  • Fear that others will notice any physical symptoms like sweating or shaking   
  • Fear of being the center of attention   
  • Fear of social situations   


Effects of social anxiety disorder may include:  

  • Anxiety  
  • Depression  
  • Isolation  
  • Low self-esteem   
  • Hypersensitivity to others’ judgment   
  • Negative thoughts   
  • Suicide or thoughts of suicide   
  • Substance abuse   

Social anxiety can be extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant. However, the good news is that it’s treatable. If you or someone you know has social anxiety and wants to find relief, it’s important to seek professional help. There are a number of ways that a doctor will treat social anxiety, including psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two.   

  Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a common way to treat social anxiety. Oftentimes, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used practice. CBT focuses on teaching you different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to particular situations. During CBT, you will slowly and progressively incorporate any teachings into everyday occurrences that would normally trigger anxiety. There are two ways to experience CBT: individual therapy and group therapy. Individual therapy consists of just you and your therapist working through any issues you’re having. Group therapy will have one mental health professional as a moderator and anywhere from 3-10 other people who also want to help address their social anxiety disorder.   Different types of medications are used to treat social anxiety disorder. Some of these include:  

  • Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)  
  • Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines  
  • Beta-blockers   

Harmony Bay Wellness offers a number of mental health services and therapies, including treatment for social anxiety disorder. If you are in South Jersey and are looking for a specialized and holistic treatment program, look no further than Harmony Bay Wellness. Contact us today by calling 855.765.6399 to learn more. Overcoming social anxiety is possible – let’s get started.   

Published on 8/10/2022 | Written by Harmony Bay Wellness

Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.