What is social anxiety?
Do you feel nervous or uncomfortable in social situations? Do you find it difficult to speak in front of others? Do you feel sick at the thought of doing a presentation or public speaking? Do you avoid going on nights out with family and friends? Do you feel other people are judging what you say or how you behave? Do you hate making small talk or eye contact with strangers?
Social anxiety is one of the most common anxiety disorders with about 13% of the population likely to struggle with it at some point in their life. It can be defined a long-lasting and overwhelming fear of social situations. Sufferers usually have a fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, self-consciousness or embarrassment.
There is no one cause of social anxiety, but if you have a family member with social phobia you are more to get it too. There is some evidence that suggests that people with social anxiety have an overactive amygdala – that part of the brain responsible for the fear response. Childhood experience, such as bullying, teasing or abuse can also increase the likelihood of developing social anxiety.