Symptoms of Social Anxiety
Signs of social anxiety are the physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions that appear in situations that are triggering for people with social anxiety.
If you are not sure if you are living with social anxiety, I put together a list of the most common signs or symptoms to give you a better idea of what it involves.
When we talk about signs of social anxiety, we generally refer to three main areas: physical symptoms, cognitive (thinking) symptoms, and behavioral (usually avoidance) symptoms.
Most people with social anxiety will have experienced all three of these types of symptoms and be able to relate to what I describe below.
People with social anxiety experience physical symptoms that are bothersome enough that they either interfere with what you are doing or make you feel embarrassed that other people are noticing them and judging you for them.
The most common physical symptoms that you might see with social anxiety are shaking, sweating, a racing heart, blushing, and upset stomach or nausea.
You might also have trouble catching your breath, feel dizzy or lightheaded, lose concentration or feel like your mind is going blank, or feel like you can’t relax your muscles.
As an example from my own life, when I was going through my worst phase of my public speaking fear, my hands would shake, my voice would shake, and I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath when I spoke.
Making all of that worse was the fear that my symptoms were very noticeable to everyone watching me.
Another hallmark symptom or sign of social anxiety is that you engage in persistent negative thinking patterns.
What this means is that if you have a problem with blushing or shaking in public, but it doesn’t really bother you or make you feel bad or anxious, then you probably don’t have social anxiety.
You just have a blushing or sweating problem.
When it turns into social anxiety (or it’s related cousin, a diagnosis of “social anxiety disorder”) is when your physical symptoms also go along with a lot of worrying, rumination, and general out-of-control negative thinking.
Some examples include thinking that you will be judged in situations, worrying about making a fool of yourself, fear that others can see your anxiety symptoms, having anticipation anxiety long before an actual event, or enduring a situation even though you have intense fear and anxiety.
It also usually involves a replay in your mind of everything that you did wrong in a situation after it happened.
Finally, you probably always expect the worst in a situation and can’t see the potential for anything different.
You’ll probably know if you have these signs of social anxiety, but if not ask yourself this: have you ever laid awake at night worrying about a social or performance situation weeks in advance?
Have you ever felt like you “ruined” a social encounter and beat yourself up afterward for what went wrong?
If these descriptions sound like you, then what you are experiencing is probably social anxiety.
Finally, social anxiety also shows up in the form of your behavior and what you do. Only, it’s not so much what you do but what you don’t do.
If you have social anxiety, you probably avoid talking to strangers, avoid being the center of attention, and back out of social events like parties or large gatherings.
You might struggle with attending school or going to work.
Conversations are probably difficult, and you constantly second-guess what to say or try to end it quickly before the other person has a chance to “figure out” that there is something wrong with you.
You probably avoid making eye contact or can’t figure out how much eye contact to make.
When you walk down a hallway or the street and see someone you know, you probably feel awkward and don’t know what to say or how to act.
Dating might also be difficult or something that you avoid altogether.
Finally, you might struggle with writing in front of others, eating in public, using public restrooms, or entering a room where everyone is already sitting down.
If you’re nodding your head right now or are thinking “this girl must know me!” then you probably have social anxiety.
If you have experienced everything I described above and it is severely impacting your life, then you might actually meet the criteria for a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder.
If that’s the case, I encourage you to reach out for help.
Your family doctor is a good first contact, but eventually, you’ll want to speak to a mental health professional for a diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Or, if your social anxiety is less severe or you are just looking for more resources, I recommend signing up for my free resource library at the top or bottom of this page or checking out my CBT & Mindfulness Workbooks or Social Anxiety Masterclass (which includes these workbooks) by clicking on the SHOP link at the top of this page.
Related Articles About Social Anxiety Symptoms
- 100 Safety Behaviors for Social Anxiety
- Take the Social Anxiety Quiz
- Learn About the 4 Types of Social Anxiety