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Social Anxiety Disorder


Social anxiety disorder is a condition that causes you to feel anxious in social situations. It is also called social phobia. You may fear that people are watching or judging you. The fear can cause problems with work, school, or other daily activities. Your fear may be limited to 1 or 2 situations, such as public speaking or performing. You may have fear in almost all situations where you may have contact with people. The fear may be present days or weeks before the situation occurs. Simply thinking about a coming event may cause anxiety symptoms.


Call 911 for any of the following:

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

Seek care immediately if:

  • You feel like fainting or are lightheaded or too dizzy to stand up.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have new symptoms since your last visit.
  • Your symptoms get worse or do not get better with treatment.
  • Your anxiety makes you unable to work or to care for yourself or your family.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given to decrease your anxiety.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Monitor your condition:

Keep a record of the situations that cause your symptoms. Bring the record with you when you see your healthcare provider. Include the following:

  • What were you doing when the symptoms started?
  • Had you eaten anything unusual, or taken a new medicine or herbal supplement?
  • Were you stressed or upset during the time leading up to the attack?
  • How often do you have symptoms? How long do they last?
  • What were your thoughts and feelings during these situations?
  • What symptoms did you have?
  • Did anything help ease or stop the symptoms, such as a relaxation technique?


  • Do not have caffeine. Caffeine can increase your heartbeat and make your anxiety symptoms worse.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if alcohol is safe for you. You may not be able to drink alcohol if you take certain anxiety or depression medicines. Alcohol can also increase depression. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day if you are a woman. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day if you are a man. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Exercise as directed. Exercise can help you decrease stress and anxiety. Talk to your healthcare provider before you start exercising. Together you can plan the best exercise program for you.
  • Manage stress. Stress can make anxiety worse. Find ways to decrease stress, such as deep breathing or listening to music.
  • Avoid hyperventilation. Some people hyperventilate during an anxiety attack. Hyperventilation means that your breaths are too fast and shallow. Breathing this way can cause numbness or tingling in your hands and lips. During an anxiety attack, focus on taking very slow, deep breaths. Your healthcare provider may show you how to breathe in and out of a paper bag when you hyperventilate. Never use a plastic bag.

Further information

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