Dr. Richard Heimberg: Hello! I am Dr. Richard Heimberg, Director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University and a member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which is partnering with the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety.
Today I am talking about the symptoms and signs of social anxiety disorder which is characterized by an intense fear of being negatively judged by others. Children and adults can be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. A majority of the more than 15 million people suffering from social anxiety disorder also have other anxiety disorders and may also suffer from depression. Symptoms may be so extreme that they disrupt daily life. People with this disorder may have few or no social or romantic relationships, making them feel powerless or alone or even ashamed. Think about whether any of the following statements apply to you. If you answer yes to some of these statements, you may benefit from treatment for social anxiety.
I feel anxious or nervous when making presentations for work or school or almost always avoid these situations. I feel anxious or nervous when interacting with others or almost always avoid these situations. I feel anxious or nervous eating or drinking in front of others. I have trouble being assertive with family friends or strangers. I have difficulty interacting with a boss or a teacher or other authority figures. I have used alcohol or tranquilizers to calm my nerves before interacting with others. I am afraid I will do something to humiliate or embarrass myself in a social situation. Everyone can relate to feeling anxious before giving a presentation or asking someone out on a date, but those with social anxiety disorder experience an intense fear of being scrutinized and negatively evaluated by others in a social or performance situations.
Some literally feel sick. Physical symptoms commonly include blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea or other gastrointestinal distress, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, headaches and feelings of detachment or loss of self control.
A full list of symptoms is available from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety. They can help you learn more about the disorder and how to find help.