What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Being nervous in public is a common problem we all face as we go through our daily lives. Depending on how well, or how poorly, our day is going, our level of nervousness will vary. Some of us go into the world every day confident and assured, while others have difficulties navigating social situations and feel awkward navigating themselves in the public eye. When it comes to Social Anxiety Disorder, difficulties in social situations are extreme enough to keep those suffering from interacting in public at all.

Many of us will get nervous giving a speech or undergoing an interview for a new job, but Social Anxiety Disorder goes well beyond these normal, everyday jitters. Social Anxiety Disorder is not a simple matter of being shy, as the nervousness that one experiences is intense enough for sufferers to avoid the public and social situations entirely. Social Anxiety Disorder is so intense in fact that it will often interfere with your daily routine and will dramatically impact your quality of life.

Imagine what it must feel like to prevent yourself from returning an item at the grocery store because you were terrified of interacting in public. Maybe you DO know what this is like. This is the essence of anxiety and it manifests itself in every social situation imaginable.

Fear and avoidance are classic markers of the disorder. Those suffering will avoid situations due to the countless underlying fears they have intruding on their general thought processes. Any situation that involves the slightest chance of being observed by anybody else will be avoided by those with social anxiety.

The wide number of situations in life that we are faced with, such as participating in sports or public activities, talking or speaking in public, or even using a public restroom will all be avoided but the Social Anxiety sufferer. These individuals are so afraid of making mistakes or being observed in a negative manner that they will avoid any kind of public or social situation.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that Social Anxiety Disorder is very treatable. If you are suffering from the disorder, you may feel helpless. You want to change, you just don’t know where to start. Acknowledging that something is wrong or different is truly your first step. Help is available, and once you begin treatment, you too will be able to participate in life as actively and fully as you dream of.

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