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10 Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Updated on January 4, 2018
Michael Kismet profile image

Michael is a self-taught expert in human behavior. He enjoys writing and sharing his insights on the human condition.

Social Anxiety Psychology

is social anxiety disorder a mental illness
is social anxiety disorder a mental illness | Source

What are Signs of Social Anxiety?

At any given time, anyone can exhibit signs and symptoms of social anxiety. Everyone can relate to experiencing social anxiety at some point in their lives. Even being a little nervous is a clear sign of letting that anxiety physically manifest itself. But it's normal for us in certain social situations to feel uncertain or uneasy.

However, for some people the anxiety is so overwhelming and encompassing to the individual, it starts to have profound impacts on their lives. The thin line between a normal reaction and one that crosses the path into a possibly more serious disorder isn't an exact science. There's no one size fits all in the diagnosis of social anxiety disorder.

People will exhibit signs and symptoms of anxiety differently, and will all handle it differently. Yet, there are particular ways people will express their anxiety in the form of behaviors that can easily be detected. Keep in mind that sheer observation alone is not enough to diagnose someone. The following are 10 signs and symptoms of possible social anxiety disorder.

Anxiety and Mental Health

social anxiety signs
social anxiety signs | Source

1. Anxiety Can Cause Muscle Tension

When you're unprepared in a social situation, your muscles in your neck tenses up, your jaw impulsively clenches, and you may even sweat more than usual. For example, if you're spending time with one friend, and all of a sudden a group of people comes walking in you're not familiar with--you freak out cause you're more or less obligated to socialize, and your body reacts to your anxiety. Constantly feeling uncomfortable with minor social interactions are a clear sign of severe anxiety.

2. Anxiety Causes Sleep Problems

Experiencing consistent insomnia or restlessness can very possibly be a by-product of stress and anxiety associated with the progression of the upcoming day. When one is constantly worried about how the next day is going to be, especially if there's a big test to take, or if they're required to make an announcement in front of others.

Obviously, many people have trouble sleeping for understandable reasons, such as financial matters, or medical procedure. But if you're tossing and turning, over generally unimportant reasons, there's a good chance you may suffer from social anxiety disorder. Even more so, if you can't focus, and your mind is constantly racing with thoughts. Not being able to contain the flow of your thoughts can be quite maddening, and the resulting lack of sleep can compound the situation.

Do you believe that everyone suffers from social anxiety, and it's a question of to what degree?

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3. Fear and Anxiety

The anxious person in question will harbor an extreme and crippling fear towards interacting with strangers or unfamiliar people, even established acquaintances. Individuals that avoid all forms of social communication, even having an irrational fear of ordering food in a restaurant, can justifiably be labeled as having social anxiety.

Another sign is if a person refuses to enter a place of business on their own, always insistent on being escorted and accompanied by someone they know. I have a friend that literally gets panic attacks when there are too many bodies within her personal space, and she has trouble breathing, it is something she still struggles with to this very day.

4. Anxiety and Chronic Stomach Problems

The uneasy feeling of anxiety may originate in the mind but can easily spread its influence to other areas of the body. Having regular stomach pains, cramps, diarrhea, and constipation are general symptoms stemming from social anxiety. Some anxious sufferers even come down with bouts of IBS, short for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

It can turn into a vicious cycle of anxiety to upset stomach and get more anxious because of the symptoms they're exhibiting. Although because an individual has chronic IBS, doesn't necessarily mean they have a serious case of anxiety. But the two conditions will exacerbate each other. Stress has a tremendous effect on a person's gut, it's quite possible statements like "having butterflies in your stomach", or "following your gut" reflect that fact.

5. Anxiety and the Spotlight Effect

This is a very specific form of anxiety, called performance anxiety. It includes giving a speech or announcement to a large body of people. It's quite normal to feel anxious for the impending moment of addressing a group of people that will most likely be judging you from your performance.

Anyone sparing even a few minutes of their time while you're in the spotlight will formulate criticism for your performance. But, performance anxiety can be overcome, much like any other mental barriers that stand to contain us and keep us from our moments in the spotlight.

Child Social Anxiety

social anxiety and depression
social anxiety and depression | Source

6. Social Anxiety and low Self Esteem

Anyone can feel a little bit self-conscious at times, especially if they're planning for an impending social event. Someone who compulsively fixes their hair or make up for hours, trying to get it exactly perfect before even considering leaving the house, let alone being at a social gathering without looking flawless.

People with a more serious tendency for social anxiety will even have trouble eating in front of strangers. Being self-conscious and suffering from the symptoms greatly affects a persons' social life. Making it extremely challenging to keep and maintain friendships, and a gripping fear to venture from the perceived safety of their home. Essentially, a person that hardly ever leaves their home, being stuck at their front door can be considered suffering from a serious social anxiety disorder.

7. Constant Worry from Anxiety Symptoms

The golden trademark of living with an anxiety disorder is the penchant to worry constantly about things that might not seem to matter, or wouldn't bother most people. We're talking about worrisome thoughts that take over a person' sense of peace and order. Technically, if the concern of the person is intense enough to interfere with his or her daily routine, it is considered a generalized anxiety disorder.

Social Anxiety Panic Attacks

8. Anxiety can Lead to Panic Attacks

Experiencing an actual panic attack is no walk in the park. Imagine an intense helplessness that essentially freezes you in your tracks. One may also sweat profusely, be hyperventilating, an increase in heart beats, numbness, and hot flashes. If you have a panic attack, it doesn't necessarily mean you have a more serious disorder. Anything can trigger a panic attack, it varies from person to person.

9. OCD and Anxiety Symptoms

When someone is exhibiting a compulsive insistence on doing something a certain way, they are expressing anxiety and stress physically. Having an obsessive-compulsive disorder is very different than someone just being tidy, or pedantic.

An individual afflicted with OCD feel an overwhelming need and urgency when it comes to doing things. Sometimes they can also be seen as overly critical and perfectionists. The mental aspects of being compulsive manifest itself physically, such as facial ticks, a need to straighten and align specific objects, and rechecking to make sure it's just right.

A friend of mine always need the volume at even number setting, she couldn't move forward until the volume bar was on an even-numbered setting. If your physiological reactions to anxiety are causing you to think and act compulsively, you might very well have some degree of OCD.

Depression and Social Anxiety

how to control social anxiety
how to control social anxiety | Source

10. Anxiety and no Self Belief

Self-deprecation is common in people with anxiety problems. Persistently conjuring up reasons not to try something or not setting goals in fear that they will never be attained, even with a sufficient amount of effort. They will refrain from being hopeful, even though there is always hope to overcome anxiety.

Individuals hampered by anxiousness and uncertainty will go out of their way to not be noticed, to fly under the radar in terms of possibly being singled out. Even if they were being singled out for a well-deserved commendation or recognition. This is quite possibly the most detrimental of ramifications due to social anxiety.

Not possessing faith in oneself creates a situation of hopelessness that is unproductive and unhealthy. If you have any opinions or suggestion on other signs or symptoms of social anxiety, please do not hesitate to voice your opinion, thanks for reading--feel free to share this article with a friend or your social network.

© 2014 Michael Kismet


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    • profile image


      3 months ago

      LTB this always happens with me. I’ll be talking with my friends and I’ll be fine, but with people I don’t know really well, I over think about what I’ve said to them for days.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      I’m not shy, and I can be outgoing around my friends. But whenever I talk to someone I’m not friends with, I think about it over and over and I feel like whatever it was I shouldn’t have said it. I also get convinced very easily that people hate me. Is this normal? I may just be overreacting?

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I believe that everyone at some point in time will experience anxiety to do stress. The article that is written is great news for those wondering if they have anxiety disorders of some type. I have found that self-hypnosis has a very positive impact on anxiety and stress disorders.

      For some it is important that they seek a medical consultation in regard to their symptoms.

    • ologsinquito profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      I'm on the shy side, but I think I function alright. My concern is that people may be medicated for shyness, when they don't need to be.


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