By Ankita Purohit

Social Anxiety Disorder – Are You the One Dealing With?

social anxiety disorder

The term Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is a medical term that specifically used for those individuals who have an extreme fear of social situations that significantly reduce their ability to perform because of the fear of being judged at. These people feel awkward nearly all the times and therefore often found avoiding all kinds of gatherings in which they are invited as guests. Even the most basic tasks are challenging for these people such as asking at the shop for a refund, eating or drinking in parties, speaking in a group, ordering pizza via phone call, asking address or speaking to a stranger; forget about public speaking, asking questions among a large group of people or powerpoint presentations, since such things are way too overwhelming for them. It scares the hell out of them about having even the slightest thought of possible scenarios that might occur, usually the negative ones, that further resist them from facing it in the first place.

Pay attention to these statements that goes on inside an anxious person’s head:

“Oh my God! How am I looking? I just hoped that very few people would gather here but the place is full of strangers! How would I greet them? Is that necessary to wish people hello? What if I say Hi to those familiar fellow members standing at the left corner and act entirely ignorant to that girl whom I met a week back, who seems nice? Wait, that girl is standing alone and I know her, why would I even go inside of that left corner group! Oops! Those people at the right corner noticed me, I must make a casual smile that must not be too broad, else it will look stupid. What have I done? Did they even notice my smile? Damn it! I have no idea what they are thinking now. Gosh! I seemed arrogant! Let’s eat food, speaking nothing and go away from this place as soon as possible.”

People with social anxiety often choose to either avoid such situation or try acting mum so as to shun from becoming awkward to everybody. Their perception about people is different. They think that everyone is noticing even their most minute act, including their shyness, stammered voice, pounding heartbeats, etc. They are too sensitive and insecure and do not forget the last time when they worsened the situation, but fail to realize that people actually forget such things.

The commonly found symptoms in the patient are

  • Extreme concern that they will offend somebody

  • Avoiding speaking to people or acting in certain ways to avoid being embarrassed

  • Avoidance being center of attention

  • Getting physical symptoms like sweating, blushing, shaky voice, pounding heart, etc. and fearing of getting caught by people due to the same reason

  • Intense fear of talking with strangers

  • Spending significant amount of time in analyzing oneself that how awkward and stupid they behaved right after the social gathering ends

  • Expecting the same set of ‘negative’ situation or worst consequences that happened last time

  • Diarrhea, muscle tension or confusion in worse cases

Symptoms of anxiety disorders

People avoid normal social situations such as – dating, eating in front of others, using public washrooms, attending parties, returning product to a store asking for a refund, making eye contact, entering a room where people are already present or seated, initiating conversation with strangers/acquaintances, going for work or school, etc. There are some of the possible causes due to which people develop for over the years, such as under –

  1. Overactive amygdala – There is a structure inside the brain that controls the fear response. People dealing with Social Anxiety Disorder have overactive brain structure. They thus have the heightened response towards social situations since that creates intense fear.

  2. Genetics – It is not a hard core fact but there are certain events which support that social anxiety runs in family and therefore if a parent or sibling has this disorder then it is likely that a person has heightened chances of developing it.

  3. Surroundings – Some people witness others getting anxious of social situations and behaving differently or awkwardly, or they simply observe someone else was caught in behaving in a certain way that lead to being a laughing stock. This enhances the probability of developing SAD among few cases of witnesses.

Overactive amygdala

Many people get anxious right before their own performance , whether it is a speech, presentation, poem, song or a dance, but the level of handling them all depends on the particular individual. Some people are really great at not showing it, others literally vomit (remember Princess Diaries!). But one mustn’t worry about it anymore since there are certain measures that could control the issue and an individual gets better with time.

First of all, one must understand that whatever thoughts come through his or her mind are their own illogical patterns of thinking that have no relation with the reality. Whatever comes must be evaluated with logical reasoning. Why people will laugh at you, and even if they do why would you care? Why do you think that the mistake you made before would be surely repeated every now and then?


Make a hierarchy of things that scare you the least to the most scary and awkward ones:

  1. Talking to an acquaintance who is currently alone at the party

  2. Making an eye contact with a stranger for few seconds

  3. Greeting with neighbors by visiting their place or inviting them over once in a month starting from the most friendly pals

  4. Giving back an item to the store which is expired/broken and asking for a refund

  5. Asking directions and address regions to people on the way

  6. Ordering a pizza through phone

  7. Ordering pizza or ice cream in person while at the restaurant

  8. Speaking on a topic while being in a group of people once someone initiates

  9. Initiating a topic yourself in a group of 4 or 5 people

  10. Singing a song

  11. Dancing even if it is just a 60 second music

  12. Giving Powerpoint presentation first among 2 or 3 people you trust the most, then increase the number of people every week

  13. Organizing a birthday party for your sibling, parents, grandparents or children

  14. Changing your hairstyle or way of dressing or both

  15. Playing with toddlers or pet animals

Above is the general hierarchy that could be counted according to the person’s level of anxiousness. You may find asking for a refund more suitable as compared to having general conversation with a stranger or acquaintance. Follow your own instincts.

social anxiety circle

An individual must understand that he/she has to push him/herself to such situations really hard even if quitting these at the first place sounds so compelling and easy. You are the one who is going to make a change within you because these traits cannot develop overnight without efforts. It is quite evident that people who get extremely anxious tend to avoid situations or even if they get to face it, they make every attempt to somehow deal with it hurriedly. Take a deep breath and be there whatever scares you for more than your usual timings. If you leave the party within half hour usually, be there for more than an hour. You will notice that it wasn’t that scary. Pay attention to every single detail of yours. How did people respond when you greeted? Did they talk to you with a smile? Are things getting better? Obviously, if people weren’t laughing at you, chances are very less that they would in the near future. Also, do not always take things with too much sensitivity. Getting offended so often will always create a hindrance to your personality grooming.


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