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Social anxiety (social phobia)

Social anxiety disorder is an overwhelming fear of social situations like meeting or speaking to people.

Symptoms of social anxiety include worrying about speaking to people, dreading social events, avoiding eye contact and low self-esteem.

Talking therapies are the main treatment for social anxiety. Self-help courses and antidepressants can also help some people.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of social anxiety include worrying about speaking to people, dreading social events, avoiding eye contact and low self-esteem.

Symptoms of social anxiety

Social anxiety is more than shyness. It's an intense fear that does not go away and affects everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships and work or school life.

Many people occasionally worry about social situations, but someone with social anxiety feels overly worried before, during and after them.

You may have social anxiety if you:

Many people with social anxiety also have other mental health issues, such as depression, generalised anxiety disorder or body dysmorphic disorder.

Read more on the NHS website.

Talking therapies are the main treatment for social anxiety. Self-help courses and antidepressants can also help some people.

Self-care

Self-help probably will not cure your social anxiety, but it may reduce it and you might find it a useful first step before trying other treatments.

The following tips may help:

  • try to understand more about your anxiety – think about what goes through your mind and how you behave in certain social situations to help you get a clearer idea of the problems you want to tackle
  • replace your unrealistic beliefs with more rational ones – for example, if you feel a social situation went badly, think if there are any facts to support this or if you're just assuming the worst
  • do not think too much about how others see you – pay attention to other people instead and remember that your anxiety symptoms are not as obvious as you might think
  • start to do activities that you'd normally avoid – this can be tough at first, so start with small targets and work towards more feared activities gradually

Medical treatments

A number of treatments are available for social anxiety.

The main options are:

CBT is generally considered the best treatment, but other treatments may help if it does not work or you do not want to try it. Some people need to try a combination of treatments.

Read more on the NHS website.