Estimated: 3 minute read

Coping with Social Anxiety

Posted on
A girl sits on the floor in her home, overwhelmed by anxiety.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder. It can be a disabling condition that affects all parts and aspects of your life. It’s not something you can simply ignore, will away, or hope you will grow out of. We can help you lessen your suffering with social anxiety and instead open up your world and live more fully while coping with social anxiety.

What does social anxiety feel like?

People who struggle with social anxiety and social anxiety disorder often feel high levels of worry, fear, and anxiety about what people think about them, how others judge them, or what they maybe saying about them, including what criticism is being shared. They may feel frozen, unable, or too anxious when they are faced with day to day challenges such as talking to a waitress in a restaurant, going to a party with friends, presenting at a work meeting, talking on the phone, answering a question in a class, using a public restroom, etc. 

When daily life becomes a challenge

At times, even the normal, natural things we all do throughout the day become a challenging chore for many people who experience social anxiety. Feelings of anxiety and worry that others may criticize or judge, may cause people to have difficulty eating in front of others, playing a game with others, or discussing certain topics in conversations.

Social Anxiety and social isolation

Often, people with social anxiety get caught in worry and thinking loops when they imagine an outcome of a future social situation. Even though they will often take days or weeks to prepare for the experience ahead of time, they may still assume the worst will happen. The fear of judgement and scrutiny causes hurt and uncomfortable feelings. These feelings can become intolerable causing people to avoid social settings and become more and more isolated in order to avoid feeling rejected or judged. However, continual isolation and avoidance of social connectedness with others causes us to miss out on the things we value and enjoy in life. Avoidance, disconnection, and lack of support causes a new level of suffering. 

Social Anxiety Signs and Symptoms

Physical Symptoms of Social Anxiety (Body Sensations)

  • Feeling nauseous
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Experiencing a rapid heart rate
  • Blush, flushed face, sweat, or shake or tremble
  • Feel guarded with a rigid body stance or posture

Emotional or Psychological Symptoms of Social Anxiety 

  • Avoiding social situations
  • Being self-conscious
  • Continual worry and fear of judgment by others 
  • Forgetting what to say or having “mind go blank”
  • Fearful of doing something embarrassing or wrong
  • Is quiet in social situations, hoping to blend in the background and not be noticed
  • Avoid going to places where they are many people
  • Struggle with eye contact with unfamiliar people
  • Intense hesitation to talk with people in social situations
  • Feeling the need to alter mood and numb emotions by using alcohol to gain needed confidence 
  • Fearful what they have to say is not correct, important, or believes people won’t care about what they say 

Benefits of Counseling and Therapy for Social Anxiety

Counseling and therapy for social anxiety focuses on teaching you skills while extending the support and guidance required so you can make the needed changes that will help you cope and overcome your anxiety symptoms. The goal of therapy is to enable you to live a happier, more fulfilled life.

At Health and Healing Therapy, we use various types of therapeutic approaches to help a person who is suffering and coping with social anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) , Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are the main types of evidence-based therapies we would use to help a person conquer social anxiety.

These therapies will help you to identify, understand, and change your anxious thoughts and behaviors and to identify the strengths and resources you have within yourself to help work through the anxious feelings and thoughts. A therapist will guide you through identifying the things and people you value and then help you align with those values, finding ways to put your efforts and energy into them. 

Social Anxiety is treatable.

Counseling and therapy for social anxiety can help you can conquer some of your greatest fears. Therapy approaches focus on teaching you skills while extending the support and guidance you need to make changes that will help you cope and overcome your anxiety symptoms.

If you or your child is struggling, suffering, and coping with social anxiety, therapy can help. Give yourself the opportunity to try something new and see how counseling can help you feel better, live the life you want, be who you are, and feel confident in your own self. We are here to provide the guidance and support you need on your journey toward a happier, more fulfilled life. 

Colleen Koncilja Bartlett Illinois Trauma Therapist

About Colleen Koncilja, LCSW, CADC, ICGC-II, BACC

I have been providing individual therapy, group counseling, and treatment services for over 30 years. I currently provide therapy to adults and couples in our private practice, Health and Healing Therapy PLLC, where I serve as the Director as well as a Therapist.

View my therapist profile.