Social phobia, or social anxiety disorder, is very common, but very hard to explain in simple terms. This condition is so vastly different from person to person, it is hard to put out a one size fits all definition. In the most general sense, social anxiety disorder is a deep fear that you are being ridiculed and judged negatively and unjustly in almost any type of social interaction.
Everyone may have a touch of social phobia in his or her life. This is actually a common feeling actors or other performers may get when they go on stage, or how someone feels before making a speech. The nervousness is normal. For someone with social anxiety disorder, the fear causes physical and emotional problems.
For those with social anxiety disorder, these thoughts of being judged can be constant and crippling. Quiet often the fears they encounter are exacted and focused on one particular thing. Some may feel people are watching them eat, and find it disgusting. Others may feel the sound of their voice causes revulsion, or that they have absolutely nothing interesting to say to anyone.
Social anxiety disorder becomes a problem when it begins to restrict a person’s life. Some people have wild fantasies about what people are thinking of them, and they dream of fleeing the situation, or try to avoid it altogether.
When confronted with new and unknown people or situations, a person with social anxiety disorder will be constantly worried about what others think of them, and they become shy and uneasy. They are so worried that they cannot think of anything to say that they will behave awkwardly.
Some people with social phobias are labeled as extremely shy, and in some cases, are accused of being snobs. This may not be true. In reality, they are paralyzed with fear about what a person is thinking about them, or that they will do something stupid.
Physical symptoms are not often painful, but very noticeable. Many people with social anxiety disorder will blush very easily, and will find themselves sweating profusely when they being to feel nervous about someone paying them attention.
They will develop the very thing they are afraid of: the ability to form words or coherent sentences. They may become clumsy, or will mumble, and try to walk away.
In severe cases, people with social phobia will exhibit signs of an oncoming anxiety attack, and will leave the area immediately. These people often find it so difficult to be in public that they begin to skip activities they once found to be fun, and will stay home unless they absolutely have to go out.
If you are suffering from social anxiety disorder, and it is severely limiting your life, you should find a good counselor to help you over come your fears. Because you may have a hard time talking to someone new, you can take a few steps to make your first visit easier on you.
Start writing down each of your reactions to various situations, and why you think they happen. When each episode occurs, write down what made you nervous about the situation, and what thoughts went through your head at that time.
For example, if you always seem to plan what you are going to say to someone before you even meet him or her, you should make a note of that. If you avoid groups of people, and avoid meeting new people, write down what you fear will happen. Anything you think may be a problem for you put it in writing.
As you write these things down, you may become better equipped to figure out what things are triggers for your social anxiety disorder. This may also help point out things you do to cope, like keeping your jacket on indoors, or letting your hair hang over your face so no one will look at you.
Once you have a good handle on these, take your list and visit a qualified mental health professional. This list will be tremendously helpful to them as they are trying to get to the root of your problem, and help you overcome your issues. Just overcoming the obstacle of meeting your doctor and opening up is the first and best step in the right direction.