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Social Anxiety Disorder


Social anxiety disorder

causes you to worry or be afraid in all or most social situations. Examples include meeting new people, going on a date, or speaking and performing in front of people. Social anxiety disorder is also called social phobia.

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder:

Social anxiety disorder can cause problems with work, school, or other daily activities. You may have anxiety in any situation where you may have contact with people. It is hard for you to control your anxiety and feel calm in these situations. The fear may be present days or weeks before the situation occurs. You may have any of the following before or during contact with other people:

  • Blushing, sweating, shaking, or trembling
  • Muscle tenseness, nausea, or a pounding heart
  • Shaky voice or dry mouth
  • Worrying that you will be embarrassed or shamed
  • Worrying that others will reject you
  • Worrying that you will offend others
  • Staying away from social situations
  • Trouble making friends or keeping friends

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have chest pain, tightness, or heaviness that may spread to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back.
  • You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms get worse or do not get better with treatment.
  • You have new symptoms since your last visit.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for social anxiety disorder

may include medicines to help you feel calm and relaxed, and to decrease your symptoms. Medicines are usually given together with therapy or other treatments.

Manage anxiety:

  • Talk to someone about your anxiety. Your healthcare provider may suggest counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you understand and change how you react to events. It can also help you understand what triggers your symptoms. You might feel more comfortable talking with a friend or family member about your anxiety. Choose someone you know will be supportive and encouraging. You can also join a support group. A support group lets you talk with others who have social anxiety disorder.
  • Find ways to relax. Activities such as yoga, meditation, or listening to music can help you relax. It may help to do these activities before a social event or speech.
  • Practice deep breathing. Deep breathing can help you relax when you feel anxious. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths several times a day, or before a social situation. Slowly breathe in through your nose. Pause, then slowly breathe out through your mouth. Try to breathe out longer than you breathed in.
  • Create a regular sleep routine. Regular sleep can help you feel calmer during the day. Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. Do not watch television or use the computer right before bed. Your room should be comfortable, dark, and quiet.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, whole-grain breads, and cooked beans. Healthy foods can help you feel less anxious and have more energy.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can increase your energy level. Exercise may also lift your mood and help you sleep better. Your healthcare provider can help you create an exercise plan.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase anxiety. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
  • Do not have caffeine. Caffeine can make your symptoms worse. Do not have foods or drinks that are meant to increase your energy level.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if alcohol is safe for you. Also ask how much is safe. You may not be able to drink alcohol if you take certain anxiety or depression medicines.
  • Do not use drugs. Drugs can make your anxiety worse. It can also make anxiety hard to manage. Talk to your healthcare provider if you use drugs and want help to quit.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Social Anxiety Disorder (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.