Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations.
It's a common problem that usually starts during the teenage years. It can be very distressing and have a big impact on your life.
For some people it gets better as they get older. But for many people it does not go away on its own without treatment.
It's important to get help if you are having symptoms. There are treatments that can help you manage it.
Symptoms of social anxiety
Social anxiety is more than shyness. It's a fear that does not go away and affects everyday activities, self confidence, relationships and work or school life.
Many people occasionally worry about social situations, but someone with social anxiety feels overly worried before, during and after them.
You may have social anxiety if you:
worry about everyday activities, such as meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working or shopping
avoid or worry a lot about social activities, such as group conversations, eating with company and parties
always worry about doing something you think is embarrassing, such as blushing, sweating or appearing incompetent
find it difficult to do things when others are watching – you may feel like you're being watched and judged all the time
fear being criticised, avoid eye contact or have low self-esteem
often have symptoms like feeling sick, sweating, trembling or a pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
have panic attacks, where you have an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety, usually only for a few minutes
The evidence for counselling for social anxiety is very limited. Numerous studies have found CBT to be the treatment of choice for social anxiety, significantly more effective than medication and other types of therapy. Through CBT for social anxiety, people learn different ways of reacting to thoughts and feelings, and they learn to engage in different behaviours that result in decreased fear.
Please get in touch if you would like to access online therapy or if you wish to obtain therapy for Social Anxiety in Cheshire at my private office in Congleton.