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Social anxiety symptoms can be psychological and physical as well

Posted Nov 06 2012 8:12am

Social anxiety symptoms may vary from case to case, but in general they encompass the feeling of mild to intense fear of becoming too anxious and/or embarrassing yourself in certain situations where there are a lot of people. Social anxiety has become a startlingly popular condition, which affects an increasing number of people of all age groups in today’s world.  People suffering from this debilitating disorder have the tendency to over exaggerate something they consider have done inappropriately or wrong in public and find it very difficult to create new contacts and mingle with others at social gatherings.  The feeling that everyone else is more outgoing and better in their social conduct than yourself may be one of the most popular symptoms that you may be suffering of some form of social anxiety. Sometimes, the phobia affects only a person’s willingness to try public speaking in front of an audience, being called in front of class, going on a date, in other cases it may involve the inability to even make a phone call, chit-chat at a party, eat, speak or go to a public toilet.

All the anxiety that is experienced by people suffering from social phobia when they come in contact with their fears causes them to start actively and in some cases fully avoiding going out in public, in order to avoid situations which would make them feel anxious. In many cases, people with social phobia are not introverts, but are rather social in other situations, with the exception of public speaking or public eating for example – the particular social situations which cause them to experience mild to severe anxiety.

Avoiding such situations can protect the person with social phobia from the negative experience, but in the long run, they can’t keep running from particular situations all their lives. Having such social anxiety symptoms can really harm their entire lifestyle and relationships, as well as their work or studying.

The most common social anxiety symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms and changes in personality and performance of people with social anxiety include:

  • Serious and continuous fear of certain public situations and the person’s performance among others.  The fear of showing the fear is actually one of the most straightforward symptoms.  The person with such a phobia may fear being embarrassed, stared at, or seen feeling anxious because of their performance.
  •  Being in situations which cause and prolong the anxiety may lead to a full blown panic attack, which can be one of the scariest situations in a person’s life.
  •  Usually a person with social phobia is perfectly aware  that the fear is over exaggerated and reasonable, but still can’t help it.
  •  The person suffering from social phobia does everything possible to avoid situations which cause them anxiety, and in case there is no way of avoiding such a situation, this causes a lot of distress and anxiety for him/her.
  •  A person suffering from social phobia will almost always change their daily routine, their study/work patterns and contacts with friends, relatives and other people from their social circles.
  •  Usually, this condition continues for at least 6 months, the severity will differ from person to person.
  •  In the cases, where there is another medical condition, the fear of showing symptoms of that preexisting condition may increase when a person is experiencing social phobia.

Other social anxiety symptoms include purely physical ones, such as:

  •  Heart palpitations, feeling of a racing heartbeat.
  •  Finding it hard to breathe, gasping for breath.
  •  Tremors, trembling and shaking of the hands and the body.
  •  Body aches, soreness, stiffness, itchy skin, an increase in allergic reactions.
  •  Blushing and/or blanching of the face (become flushed and red or extremely pale in moments of anxiety.
  •  Chest tightness, choking, dizziness and the feeling that you are going to pass out
  •  Muscle twitching and jolts.
  •  Increased frequency in urination.
  •  Nausea and vomiting.
  •  Sweating and hot flashes.
  •  Numbness, tingling and weakness of arms and legs.
  •  Sexual dysfunction, lack of interest in sex.
  •  A metallic taste in the mouth.
  •  The feeling of impending death.
  •  A strong worrying feeling about what others think of you.
  •  Fear of the public.
  •  Fear of dying.
  •  Fear of having a heart attack, a stroke or another deadly undetected illness.
  •  Fear that you are going crazy and losing it.
  •  Fear of fainting.
  •    Intense fear which continues for days, weeks and even months before an upcoming social situation which you know will make you anxious.
  •  A need to sit near the exit or the washrooms, in order to be quickly able to flee.
  •  Depression.
  •  Feeling like being put under pressure.
  •  Mood swings.
  •  Feeling down and lack of joy for things and people you used to enjoy.
  •  Crying for no reason.
  •  Feeling scared, numb or angry.

Other typical social anxiety symptoms include: problems falling asleep and sleeping, waking up in a worse mood, dreaming bad or scary dreams, jolting during sleep, waking up in the middle of the night, waking up with a panic attack, etc.

In many cases, people suffering from social anxiety will avoid situations which make them anxious altogether, and will go at great lengths to ensure they avoid them.  In other cases, a person affected may choose to drown their fears and anxiety in booze before particular social events, or will always choose to bring a friend, who gives them more confidence and behind whom they can hide.

Anyhow, if you or a close person is showing one or more of these social anxiety symptoms, it is a good idea to seek professional help. The earlier you get diagnosed with social phobia, the better chances of quicker recovery and relief of the scary and debilitating condition. Various types of therapy are available, including: self-therapy, group therapy, professional cognitive behavior therapy. There are also various medications available to alleviate and eliminate the symptoms of social phobia.  Of course, they need to be prescribed by a professional, because in many cases have serious side effects and may be addictive. Make sure you seek professional advice if you or your close ones are displaying one or more of these social anxiety symptoms.

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