Did you know? Social Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions.
Through this article, you will come across some social anxiety disorder symptoms that you should be on the lookout for. Remember, awareness of mental health disorders is important even if you are not directly affected by them.
A friend in need or a colleague at work could be suffering from one or more of these social anxiety disorder symptoms and might hesitate to ask for help. In such circumstances, you could lend a helping hand by identifying their symptoms and recommending a visit to the medical clinic.
Warning: Refrain from self-diagnosis. Always seek professional advice before beginning any sort of treatment. You could be suffering from a mild episode of social anxiety which is not the same as having the disorder.
Social anxiety is a temporary situation and might go away with care and self-help techniques. People with social anxiety disorder symptoms might not enjoy this privilege.
Before we jump into the symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD), let us understand a key point first.
What is social anxiety disorder?
Social Anxiety disorder much like its counterpart, social anxiety is the fear felt in the days leading up to or the nervousness felt during a social situation.
Social Anxiety Disorder is an extreme condition and should not be confused with social anxiety. Social anxiety is a temporary situation and might go away with care and self-help techniques. People with social anxiety disorder symptoms might not enjoy this privilege.
Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
People often wonder ‘What are symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder?
A daunting question for someone who does not want to find out if they are suffering from these symptoms.
It must be kept in mind that these symptoms are only for self-detection of the disorder and do not provide any valid diagnosis for it.
For a diagnosis, a medical practitioner must be approached, who will diagnose you using social anxiety disorder dsm5 methods. (DSM5: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition)
Read more: About DSM5
Here’s a list of 8 symptoms you might observe in a person suffering from SAD:
1. Fear of facing social situations
From parties to professional conferences, these events are your worst nightmare!
If you suffer from this social anxiety disorder symptom, you will often express a persistent fear of situations that involve speaking in or speaking to large groups.
You might explicitly state this fear to your friends and peers or avoid attending these events altogether. If you realize that there’s a pattern of avoidance, ask your friends or peers to confirm your observation.
2. Fear of judgement
From ordering coffee at a cafeteria to performing on stage, these activities just seem impossible!
This fear stems from being criticized or judged when speaking to people. You might assume that people are constantly judging you for what you say, for your opinions, and even for something as simple as your choice of words.
Even someone just simply observing you might make you feel like you are crumbling on the inside. Although many people despise being judged for their performance, people suffering from performance-induced SAD might go up to the extent of having an emotional breakdown in the situation.
3. Excessive sweating, blushing and hot flushes
These symptoms can often be confusing as they are common to both general anxiety and social anxiety disorders.
If you suffer these social anxiety disorder symptoms, they might not occur only in the moment. Even in the times leading up to a social event, just the mere anticipation may trigger these symptoms making you nervous about something that has yet to occur.
Of course, if you get to the point of the event (without having avoided it), you might still face these symptoms invariably.
4. Fear of embarrassment
Do you fear being embarrassed cause you cannot get a grasp on your words? It might seem ordinary to others but for people with SAD, this might be very scary.
You might hesitate to attend events and programs where there’s even a slight chance that you might be spotted blushing or even because of the ordinary bodily function of sweating.
Rationalizing with your mind might help put you at ease but it is recommended to practice methods to overcome social anxiety well in advance to avoid letting things get out of hand.
If you ever wonder, ‘How do I get rid of shyness and social anxiety?’
5. Panic Attacks
This symptom is also common to panic disorder and other anxiety disorders but the causes might be completely different.
For a person with generalized anxiety disorder, something as plain as an upcoming exam could trigger a panic attack.
However, panic attacks are social anxiety disorder symptoms caused due to anxiety that comes when looking forward to or attending a social event.
The warning signs of a panic attack are uncontrollable trembling, raised heartbeat, dizziness, weakness in limbs, nausea, chills and even breathing issues to name a few.
If you have suffered from a panic attack previously in a social setup, it is advisable to visit a doctor for help to prevent further attacks.
6. Hampered day to day functioning
You might wonder: How bad can social anxiety get?
It might come as a shock to know that you can find it difficult to perform even ordinary tasks like placing an order at a restaurant or saying hello to a peer at a meeting. This is one of the less obvious social anxiety disorder symptoms.
Simple tasks that involve talking to someone either known to you or a stranger feel difficult to perform.
This can be related to the fear of embarrassment or judgement or any of the previous symptoms but normal day-to-day decisions are affected all the same.
You could have an emotional meltdown in the middle of a meeting because of all the built-up tension that anticipation has brought to you.
7. Avoiding social setups
Another one of the prevalent social anxiety disorder symptoms that usually goes unnoticed by the person suffering from it is the tendency of avoidance.
This habit of avoiding any sort of socializing by diverting the mind away from the situation or completely avoid attending one to save yourself from being the center of attention.
It might not be obvious to you at first because you think it is a normal tendency to want to avoid weddings and family reunions, thanks to nosy neighbors and relatives!
However, if you make excuses to avoid all the events and this habit starts showing up in your professional life, it is definitely something you need to work on.
To see the medical aspects on how to cure social anxiety disorder, visit: 6 Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment Methods: Medico therapy
8. Destructive self-criticism
Have you ever had that moment when after an event is over and done with, you sit and mull over what happened? Me too.
People with social anxiety disorder, tend to focus on the negative outcomes of or episodes that occurred during an event more than others.
They tend to criticize themselves too harshly and often forget that they’re only human and are allowed to make mistakes. This is a harmful thinking pattern as too much negative self-criticism only pushes you further down the dark tunnel.
Now that you are aware of 8 social anxiety disorder symptoms, you might think:
What is the best job for someone with Social Anxiety Disorder?
There are 2 ways to look at this:
- Take up a job that does not require much human contact or talking and socialising. Example: an author, a medical technician, a veterinary assistant. These jobs do not require you to directly talk to other people and in the case of the veterinary field, animals are said to provide cathartic relief too.
- With medications and therapy, you can overcome or bring the symptoms under control and take up any job of your liking. However, bear in mind that there are chances of relapse and you might have to re-join therapy.
What can be mistaken for social anxiety?
Please be advised social anxiety disorder causes such symptoms to occur that might be similar to these disorders-
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Alcohol or Substance Abuse
This can result in confusion but approaching a medical practitioner is the right way to go about diagnosing yourself. The practitioner will examine you for any other physical problems or comorbidities that might be causing these symptoms.
Lastly, let’s address the question of –
What happens if social anxiety is left untreated?
There can be some serious repercussions of not treating social anxiety disorder depending on the degree to which it has infiltrated your daily routine in life.
Some people struggle to bring their social anxiety disorder symptoms under control with only self-help methods or might even relapse, giving in to the disorder again. In such cases, medical intervention is essential.
Others who have already taken medical help might also relapse over time. This can be avoided only by integrated and regular practice of all techniques learned by an individual over the course of treatment.
With this article, you have identified the 8 social anxiety disorder symptoms and can spot them for yourself and others. With the knowledge of these symptoms, you might end up saving the lives of people who were not already aware of this condition existing in them. Our perpetual aim as a society should be to spread awareness of these warning signs and provide a helping hand to all those who need it.
Please drop a comment on what you have learned from the article.
Together we stand; together we can!