How To Know If You Have Social Anxiety
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 05, 2018
Reviewer Erika Schad, LCP, CWLC
You agreed to go to a party, but as the hour approaches you find yourself getting restless. You're easily irritated and maybe inexplicably angry at everything and everyone. Then, at the last minute, you call and cancel and the feelings of relief wash over you. Although you begin to experience a sense of relief, you begin to experience little shame and guilt. If this sounds familiar, read on. You might be battling more than simple introversion - here's how to know if you have social anxiety as well.
How to Know If You Have Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is anxiety that is triggered by social situations. While it may tend to be worse when you're confronted with the idea of attending a party with lots of people, it can also be triggered by other social situations such as:
- Meeting a close friend for coffee
- Attending a job interview
- Talking on the phone
- Sending an email
- Public speaking
- Answering a question in class
- Writing your name in a public record or on the board
- Speaking with customer service representatives, either in person at a store or on the phone
Anxiety presents itself differently to different people, which can make it difficult to identify. For some people, anxiety can result in full-blown panic attacks. For others, it can mean self-medicating by drinking to calm their nerves or simply withdrawing from situations in which they may feel uncomfortable. For still others, anxiety may come only as an intense feeling of fear or unease on the inside, while appearing calm, cool, and collected on the outside. Additionally, Social Anxiety has also been associated with certain information processing biases, including the tendency to attend selectively to socially threatening situations and overestimate the likelihood for negative outcomes in social situations (Heinrichs & Hofman, 2001).
If you experience any of these symptoms when presented with a social situation, you may have social anxiety:
- Intense fear
- Upset stomach
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Intense feeling of dread
- Racing heart or palpitations
- Hot/cold flashes
How to Deal if You Have Social Anxiety
Depending on the severity of your social anxiety, you may choose to deal with it in a number of ways.
Desensitization and self-talk - If you recognize you have social anxiety, you can name the situations which can trigger your discomfort and intentionally put yourself in them to desensitize yourself. As you prepare to face a social situation use self-talk such as, "I know you can do this," "It feels scary but that's my brain deceiving me," or "The more I do this, the easier it will be." Afterwards, reflect on your experience to see that it was not as terrible as you expected it to be. As you build up more positive experiences, you will have more to draw from going forward and it will help you to feel less anxious in advance of social events.
Medication - There are many types of anti-anxiety medications on the market today. If you feel like your social anxiety interferes with your quality of life and are not able to overcome it on your own, talk to your doctor about your medical options.
Counseling - The support of a counselor can help you work through your anxiety and support you in finding ways to deal with it in a healthy manner. Betterhelp.com even offers online counseling so you don't even have to leave the comfort and safety of your home if you don't want to! Counseling can do wonders to work with you to develop coping skills and help you get your life back.
It's time to free yourself from your social anxiety. You can do it - get started today!