Delivering a big speech or starting a new job would make most anyone nervous. But for people with social anxiety, sometimes simply getting through a regular workday or making a phone call can turn into a nerve-wracking event. Social anxiety can be a debilitating condition. With this in mind, knowing how to tell if you have social anxiety is the first step toward getting help.
Contrary to what some people may believe, this is not a matter of simply being shy or needing the occasional day to yourself. A person with social anxiety may fear judgement in social situations so much that it impacts everyday life, according to the Social Anxiety Institute. Simply meeting new people or making chit-chat could cause significant distress to persons with a social anxiety disorder. They may feel intensely scrutinized and embarrassed by any sort of social encounters.
Although they may feel like the odd person out most of the time, people with social anxiety are far from alone. In fact, approximately 15 million adult Americans have social anxiety disorder, as noted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Read on to see whether these common signs of social anxiety apply to your own life, and don't hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.
1You Fear Talking On The Phone
You use your phone for texting, writing email, and playing addictive games all day. Why, then, does it become so frightening when you want to actually make a phone call? As noted by the Social Anxiety Institute, a hesitancy to make phone calls and fearing rejection from the person on the other end of the line is a common symptom of social anxiety. Simply making a dentist appointment or chatting with an old friend typically does not inspire such distress in most people.
2Your Muscles Tense Up
This may be one of the more low-key signs. But according to Very Well, people with social anxiety may tense their muscles most of the time. How does your jaw, neck, or back feel right now?
3You Struggles To Sleep
Sure, about a thousand different things can cause sleep issues. But it helps to know that for many people, social anxiety may be the root cause of insomnia and associated problems with sleep deprivation, as noted by a 2008 study in Depression and Anxiety. Sadly, the problems associated with social anxiety don't necessarily disappear when you're alone in bed.
4You Have Problems Eating In Front Of Others
When the pizza arrives and everyone dives for a slice, are you left hanging back? According to the National Institute of Health, people with social anxiety often have issues eating or drinking in front of other people. And, in a world where so much socializing takes place around food, it can be difficult to avoid these situations.
5You Dislike Being Center Of Attention
Sure, most people blush when the waitstaff marches over to the table with a lit cake, singing their restaurant's rendition of "Happy Birthday." But for those suffering from social anxiety, being the center of attention is absolute torture, as explained by the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Institute of Maryland. You might even avoid your own birthday outings to keep your calm.
6You Don't Let Loose At Parties
When other people are mixing and mingling, would you rather disappear into the wallpaper? As would be expected, people with social anxiety often report great anxiety around events such as parties or other social get-togethers, according to the Independent. Such gatherings are more nerve-wracking than fun.
7You Develop Stomach Issues When Socializing
Many symptoms of social anxiety show up physically. For instance, you may experience intense stomach pain or even nausea, as noted by the Calm Clinic. Do you seem to get sick to your stomach every time you're called upon to be social?
8You Avoid Meeting Or Class Participation
For many people, speaking up in front of a crowd is pretty scary. But as explained by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, speaking up in a meeting or classroom discussion is borderline impossible for some people with social anxiety. They don't want to go anywhere near the spotlight.
9You Hate Using Public Bathrooms
Granted, no one particularly likes using public restrooms. But for some people with social anxiety, using a toilet in public may be unthinkable, according to Anxiety.org. They may even completely avoid situations that would require the use of a public toilet, making socialization that much more difficult.
10You Loathe Small Talk
Small talk can be tricky for even the most outgoing conversationalists. But for those affected by social anxiety, making small talk can become a big issue, as noted on Socialphobia.org, because it's common for socially anxious people to put pressure on themselves. Do you stress out about chit-chat because you're worried the other person won't find you funny or interesting?
11You Abuse Alcohol
Sure, many people like to use a little liquid courage to help get through a holiday party or first date. But according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 20 percent of those with social anxiety also struggle with alcohol abuse or dependence. Although booze may temporarily put a damper on your social anxiety, it often causes an increase in the symptoms once your hangover has lifted. If you're concerned about your alcohol intake, then this is another excellent reason to seek help.