Social Anxiety Explained

Hey everyone! This weeks post is all about social anxiety. I am zoning in on social anxiety and what it is, the symptom and the best treatment approach for it.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is said to be the most common type of anxiety, affecting one in twenty teens and adults. Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. People with social anxiety fear of being negatively judged and perceived by other people which causes high anxiety for them.

Some people describe social anxiety as being shy, which isn’t always the case, people who aren’t shy can also suffer social anxiety. It strikes when someone believes they will do something humiliating or embarrassing, and it makes you believe that others are judging you. If you want to know how socially anxious people feel, imagine having a spotlight on you 24/7, that’s the way they feel!

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It effects your thinking in the following ways:

  • Worrying about what others think of you
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate, or remember what people say
  • Dwelling on things you think you did wrong
  • Putting all of your focus of attention on yourself (which amplifies the psychical sensations of anxiety even more)
  • Imagining the worst case scenarios of what could go wrong ahead of time.
  • As a knock on effect of all of the above, your mind can go blank and you may struggle to think of what to say when in a social situation


It effects your emotions in the following way:

  • High anxiety, nervousness and feeling self-conscious
  • Feeling frustrated with yourself or possibly others
  • Confidence issues-feeling unconfident
  • Feeling down and hopeless about being able to change

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It effects your behaviour (what you do as a result of all of the above):

  • Avoiding making eye contact as you don’t feel confident
  • Speaking quickly and quietly
  • Avoiding anything that may attract attention, for example getting up and walking across the room to the bathroom
  • Avoiding some social situations.

These are examples of some of the symptoms that a socially anxious person would experience.

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In my personal and professional opinion the best treatment approach for social anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps you to manage your issues by changing the way you think and behave. CBT works to teach you that your thoughts and actions can affect the way you feel. CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviours, and not external things, like people, situations, and events.

CBT for social anxiety works using both cognitive methods and behavioural methods. Cognitive methods which is focused on your thinking, teaching you how to change you’re thinking and rationalising your thinking using techniques. While Behavioural methods include exposure training and systematic desensitization. Exposure training involves gradually exposing you to anxiety-provoking situations so that over time they bring about less anxiety and fear. Exposure training is done in a very gradual process. It is done in a safe and comfortable way after you have gained cognitive and relaxation techniques.

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Social anxiety can be debilitating but it can be treated! You can learn how to control your social anxiety and feel more confident and happier in social situations. The first step is to reach out for help. I recently did a post all about what CBT is, available here:

My next post will focus in on how CBT specifically treats social anxiety.

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Image References: Google images

Niamh-Psychotherapist xx 

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