My name is Ben.
I’ve dealt with social anxiety for nearly my entire life.
I created this website to help inform others and raise awareness about social anxiety.
Social anxiety disorder is one of the most misunderstood anxiety related conditions and it can be debilitating.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that almost 7% of the population in the United States suffers from social anxiety. That’s 15 million people.
Social anxiety does not discriminate. It affects both men and women equally and can be found across all races and ethnicities. It usually starts at around age 13.
In a 2007 survey by the ADAA, 36% of people who have social anxiety disorder say that they try to deal with the symptoms on their own for 10 years or longer before they seek help.
Simply put, social anxiety disorder, SAD, is the fear of interacting with people. This fear is rooted in a dread of being evaluated negatively and judged by others. This leads to feelings of
These feelings can lead to avoidance of social situations and interacting with others.
When a person shows signs of anxiety that are irrational or extreme when they are in social situations, but seem to be better when they are alone, then the problem could be social anxiety.
Social anxiety may also cause a person to withdraw to exhibit signs of shyness.
Shyness is a tendency to experience certain feelings during social encounters, particularly with people they don’t know. These feelings may include
Some people also have physical reactions that are associated with shyness and anxiety
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach
- Pounding heart
- Dry mouth
Both anxiety and shyness can cause a person to become isolated and have negative feelings about themselves. They may worry about how others see them or what others think of them. This can cause them to withdraw from large crowds and other types of social interaction.
Both social anxiety and shyness can have a significant impact on a person’s life, affecting their relationships, job, school, and life. When someone suffers from SAD or shyness other people may notice the effects, but often they don’t. They may appear social, even popular.
There is a direct connection between SAD and shyness – and it might surprise you.
Social anxiety and shyness are intricately intertwined. Anxiety can lead to shyness and shyness can lead to anxiety.
Shyness is considered a form of social anxiety.
A person who has social anxiety is more than just extremely shy.
Many people feel shy and uncomfortable when they are in situations that are new or with people they don’t know. Some shyness is actually normal. Most people will relax and warm up to the situation after a while. They might even have a good time.
But, when those feelings of shyness become intolerable, affecting their personal lives and how they function in society, then it is more likely social anxiety disorder. People with SAD find that it is almost impossible to perform or relax in social settings.
However, there are some things you can do to make it a little easier.
You can take control. Empower yourself with these tips:
- Understand that anxiety is perfectly normal. When your brain perceives that your body is in danger it sends messages through the body that prepare it for fight or flight by producing adrenaline, a defense mechanism.
- Realize that anxiety is not rooted in reality. The brain perceives danger but blows it out of proportion and anxiety is the result.
- Recognize anxiety for what it is. Know the symptoms of anxiety – your symptoms. Know what your anxiety looks like so you can recognize it and take steps to control it before it gets out of hand.
- Take some time to prepare yourself before social situations. Try some breathing exercises and take time to mentally prepare yourself. Try to avoid rushing into social interactions if you can help it.
- Have a plan. When you go into social situations, have a plan in place in case you start to feel anxious. Find a safe place where you can retreat if you start feeling overwhelmed or anxious and give yourself permission to leave if it all becomes too much.
- Focus on your breathing. When feelings of anxiety start to overwhelm you, stop, try to find a quiet place, and focus on your breathing. Breathe in, saying, “I am breathing in good air.” Breathe out, saying, “I am breathing out the anxiety and bad feelings.” Keep your breathing controlled and breathe deeply.
- Redirect your focus. Find something that will distract you. Get your mind on something else and off of what is causing your anxiety.
You can’t just stop your SAD; it isn’t a choice. Your family and friends may not understand, but we do. Your social anxiety can be managed. You can function in social situations. You can have your life back.
You are not alone; I understand what you are going through. I want to help.
Don’t let social anxiety disorder steal another moment of your life. Get the help that you need.