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What is social anxiety / social phobia?

Social anxiety disorder is characterised by a strong and persistent fear of social situations, rooted in a dread that the individual with humiliate or embarrass themselves.

For some it means worrying for several weeks about an upcoming event, for others it can prevent them attending social situations or even leaving the house. Relationships can become hard to maintain as people with social anxiety may come across as being aloof or distant. It is common for people with social anxiety to become withdrawn, isolated and depressed and many will also suffer from depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder.


Social Phobia / Social Anxiety Symptoms

  • Nausea and stomach complaints
  • Sweating
  • Trembling and muscle tension
  • Difficulty talking to others
  • Immense fear of talking in public
  • Avoiding public spaces and social situations
  • Difficulties making friends and avoiding meeting new people
  • Fear of being judged or watched by strangers


Diagnosing social anxiety / social phobias

It wasn’t until 2013 that social anxiety became a separate condition recognised with the National Institute of Clinical Excellence – an organisation which gives guidance on treatment best practice in the UK.

There are three key questions that are often used when determining whether the anxiety disorder that someone may be struggling with could be social anxiety, but in order for a diagnosis to take place it is important to consider all aspects of an individual’s life:

1. Fear of embarrassment causes me to avoid doing things or speaking to people.
2. I avoid activities in which I am the centre of attention.
3. Being embarrassed or looking stupid are among my worst fears

If you think you, or someone you know, is struggling with Social Anxiety you can speak to one of our triage team about how we can help. Call 0203 326 9160 or contact us.


Social anxiety is an incredibly common complaint

It is thought that up to one on ten people suffer with some form of social anxiety. The average age of onset is in adolescence, with many recovering by adulthood.

However, for those that continue to struggle with social anxiety, it takes an average of 15 years before they seek help, by which time it can be harder to treat for a couple of reasons. Firstly the individual may have compounded their belief that social situations are terrifying by keeping away from as many as possible. Secondly, there is a greater risk they will have developed another condition, often depression, as they withdraw socially and become more isolated.

Seeking early help is therefore key to helping a quick recovery.


What help is there for social anxiety treatment?

Talking therapies such as counselling, psychotherapy and CBT can be incredibly useful in addressing the root causes for social anxiety.

Therapists and psychologists can help the sufferer learn coping mechanisms and ways of dealing with future situations. Read more about talking therapies for anxiety disorders.

Sometimes medications, such as antidepressants, can be of help and may be used alongside social anxiety therapy.

If you would like to talk, free of charge, about booking a private assessment for Social Anxiety please call 0203 326 9160.

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