Social anxiety is a lesser known form of anxiety. Social anxiety is the anxiety of being negatively perceived or to make a fool of oneself. Social anxiety triggers the anxiety of doing something which will give your criticism, or which you think will make you look foolish. With looking foolish, people with social anxiety often include the following examples:

  • Suddenly starting to blush
  • Sweating a lot
  • Starting to shake during a conversation

Social anxiety might not seem like a severe type of anxiety, but it is a type which should be taken seriously. Some people with social anxiety avoid contact with people, out of the fear of making a fool of themselves, which can cause strong feelings of isolation and depression. Furthermore, this form of anxiety will also stop you from doing daily activities or from doing things which make you happy.

What are the symptoms of social anxiety?

Social anxiety has different definitions; the diagnosis social anxiety has different interpretations, depending on which diagnosis tool is used. The DSM-IV is a category-based manner of diagnosing, and it uses the following 6 rules when it comes to the diagnosis of social anxiety:

  1. You must be anxious about behaving in a way which is embarrassing or humiliating. When experiencing this situation, the anxiety is nearly always present. Extreme forms of this anxiety can lead to a panic attack.
  2. You know that the anxiety is exaggerated or unreal.
  3. The social situation leads to avoidance behavior.
  4. The situations causing the anxiety have a clear influence on your daily life, your work environment, social happenings, or relations.
  5. Persons, younger than 18 years old, need to experience the anxiety symptoms of social anxiety for at least 6 months.
  6. The social phobia may not have physical causes, nor be the result of substance abuse. The symptoms may be caused by another mental disorder.

What are the possible causes of social anxiety?

Just like other types of anxiety, there often is a combination of genetic and situation factors at play, before a social anxiety is created. What these genetic and situation factors entail, however, is different for every anxiety disorder.

Genetic causes

Genetic factors of social anxiety consist of gender and heredity. Women namely have a larger chance of experiencing a social anxiety than men do. Also, there are certain genetic factors which increase the chances of social anxiety occurring.

It is important to know that genetic factors generally do not lead to the development of a social phobia. In most cases, a combination with situational factors is required, which is something you have power over. You are not doomed to develop a social phobia even if you are genetically vulnerable.

Situational causes

Situational factors in social anxiety generally mean the following:

  1. Situational influences of educational figures
  2. Your own situational factors

1. Situational influences of educational figures

Anxiety can find its cause in certain examples which have been set for you by important figures. For example, chances are that you are more afraid of spiders if your mother always panics when she sees a spider. Because you see anxious behavior in people who lead you as a child, chances are increased that you copy this behavior. You namely learned that you should be scared in such situations.

Aggression, too, can have an influence on social anxiety. Research shows that verbal aggression between parents of young children increase chances of social anxiety developing. For example, children who are criticized often have a larger chance of developing social anxiety, because they are more anxious about doing something embarrassing.

It is important to note here that the influence of these factors is very low and that situational causes mainly consist of your own situational factors.

2. Your own situational factors

With your own situational factors we mean the way in which you handle certain situations and your personality. Except for eventual predisposition, we still have a choice about how we react to certain situations. One certain situation will not create the same response from everyone with the same predisposition.

In social anxiety, humiliating situations are very important. If you have been in humiliating situations and you have chosen to respond anxiously to these, chances increase that you might develop social anxiety. Self-confidence can play a large role here.

What are the possible consequences of social anxiety?

Every social anxiety is different. However, the one thing which is found in every social anxiety is significant suffering. This suffering can be expressed in different ways.

Generally, people with social anxiety experience depressed symptoms after a while and feel like they have lost their happiness. People namely need human contact. If you then avoid social situations, this can trigger isolation and depressed feelings. You feel lonely more often. The social anxiety can also stop you from doing things which make you happy. This can all lead to the eventual development of a depression.

A social anxiety cannot only influence your happiness, but also your level of performance. For example, people with social anxiety might quit school early because they want to avoid the group situation, or because they have problems with certain types of tests. For example, you might purposely call in ill on the day where you should have done a presentation for your exam. This has a negative effect on your grades.

Social anxiety: treatment?

You can treat social phobia by dealing with anxiety and negative anxiety constructs. At the hand of therapy you can look at what causes your anxiety and what you need to once again take your life into your own hands and reduce anxiety. "" is an online self-help program, which guides you every day in the treatment of your own goals to reduce anxiety.

Test your anxiety symptoms?

Would you like to know if you suffer from social anxiety and which anxiety symptoms you experience? Then do the free anxiety test here!