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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 a 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 panic 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 can help reduce social anxiety 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 – by thinking about or writing down what goes through your mind and how you behave in certain social situations, it can help to keep a diary
  • try some relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises for stress
  • break down challenging situations into smaller parts and work on feeling more relaxed with each part
  • try to focus on what people are saying rather than just assuming the worst

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.