Social anxiety makes it difficult for people to engage in everyday activities such as just going to work or heading to Starbucks to have a coffee with friends. These activities can be incredibly intense for someone with social anxiety. The fear of having a panic attack in public or being humiliated or embarrassed is so strong that many people choose to avoid social situations entirely. If you have a friend with anxiety and they are inconsistent with plans or cancel often, try not to internalize this behavior. Anxiety causes a fight, flight, or freeze response, which is biological in nature. Someone with anxiety needs help to overcome their intense fear before they can be more consistent in social situations.
Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is the third largest psychological problem in the United States today. Millions of people quietly endure this pain every day, believing there is no hope for them getting better.
What is life with Social Anxiety like?
- “I couldn’t go on dates or to parties. For a while, I couldn’t even go to class. My sophomore year of college I had to come home for a semester.”
- “My fear would happen in any social situation. I would be anxious before I even left the house, and it would escalate as I got closer to class, a party, or whatever. I would feel sick to my stomach–it almost felt like I had the flu. My heart would pound, my palms would get sweaty, and I would get this feeling of being removed from myself and from everybody else.
- “When I would walk into a room full of people, I’d turn red and it would feel like everybody’s eyes were on me. I was too embarrassed to stand off in a corner by myself, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to anybody. I felt so clumsy, I couldn’t wait to get out.”