People with social anxiety become very anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. They have an intense, persistent, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others, and of doing things that will embarrass them. They can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.
Social anxiety can be limited to one situation (such as talking to people, eating or drinking, or writing on a blackboard in front of others). Or, it may be so broad that the person experiences anxiety around almost everyone other than family members.
Physical symptoms that often occur include:
- Difficulty talking
- Profuse sweating
Social anxiety disorder is different from shyness. Shy people are able to participate in social functions. Social anxiety disorder affects the ability to function in work and relationships.
Some of the most common fears of people with this disorder include:
- Attending parties and other social occasions
- Eating, drinking, and writing in public
- Meeting new people
- Speaking in public
- Using public restrooms