Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an excessive fear of how one is perceived by others. This fear often leads to avoiding social situations, or even all social contact, which severely limits daily life and functionality for sufferers. 


APPOTEK can help with social anxiety disorder.


For people suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder, symptoms can vary in severity. For some, the anxiety is associated only with one or a few social situations. For others, most social contexts arouse fear and anxiety. Here are some examples of common situations that may be perceived as unpleasant:


  • going to the party
  • talking in a group or in front of others
  • phone calls
  • being the center of attention
  • eating or drinking with others.


Sufferers commonly have negative and self-critical thoughts. They judge themselves much more than others and focus overly (and negatively) on how others perceive them in social situations.  Concerns can emerge before a social situation occurs, as well as afterwards – when they obsess over what they have done or said in the social situation.


The most common feelings associated with social anxiety are fear and worry. Many people also experience disappointment and regret for not being able to live the life they want to. It is also common to feel failure and shame in self-critical thoughts.


Social anxiety disorder can also cause physical symptoms such as:


  • tremor
  • palpitation
  • nausea
  • redness
  • sweating


Anxiety can make people avoid social situations, thereby increasing loneliness.


Common social anxiety behaviors can be divided into two main groups – avoidance and safety behaviors:


  • Avoidance means that situations, places, people or activities that cause anxiety are avoided.
  • Safety behaviors mean that tricks are employed to make social situations more bearable and to mitigate anxiety. The sufferer will consciously try to reduce or hide their anxiety, avoid triggers and hide their diffidence. For example, preparing carefully what to say or looking away to avoid eye contact.

Social anxiety disorder in children and young people


Social anxiety disorder often arises early. Anxiety can manifest in children from the age of seven, but usually occurs in teens around the age of 14-16.


Social anxiety disorder causes a fear of meeting new people and diffidence in social situations. Signs of social anxiety disorder in children are: regular absences from school, repeated headaches or stomach aches and having only few friends. Children with social anxiety disorder often stay away from group activities, such as gymnastics or group work, and do not like to be examined or scrutinized by others, for example during presentations.


You can help your child by putting reasonable demands on social situations as well as preparing them in advance for new situations.


Causes of Social anxiety disorder can be both inherited and environmental. It is common for those suffering from social anxiety to have generalized anxiety syndrome, GAD, and depression.

Prevention and protection

Contact a psychologist to get the right treatment for you. Exposure and focus shift are among methods shown to have good results in treating social anxiety disorder.


You can also try to:


  • avoid caffeine
  • do sport (physical activity helps with anxiety)
  • make sure you get enough sleep
  • stop smoking
  • train to let the anxiety exist
  • avoid stress.


Social anxiety is treated with various forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy, CBT. In some cases, psychological treatment may be combined with antidepressants. The treatment aims to reduce anxiety in social situations, as well help to find other strategies than avoiding people, to manage the anxiety.

When to consult a doctor

If anxiety affects your everyday life or if your child has anxiety problems, you should contact your doctor or psychologist.

How APPOTEK can help

  • Consulting
  • Psychological treatment
  • Individual assessment of doctors and prescriptions if necessary

Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.