Symptoms of social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder shares a number of physical and mental symptoms with anxiety and other mental illnesses.

Symptoms of social anxiety disorder can be physical or mental. Physical symptoms are similar to those experienced in other anxiety conditions such as:

  • Rapid heartbeat and palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Hot flushes and increased sweating
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Tightened breathing
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Muscle tension


Emotional and behavioural symptoms may include:

  • Fear and avoidance of situations where you feel you may be judged, embarrassed etc
  • Intense worry about interacting with others
  • Fear that your physical symptoms will be noticed by others
  • Fear and avoidance of social situations where you might be centre of attention
  • Anticipatory anxiety before social interactions
  • Over-analysing and criticizing your performance in social interactions
  • Experience negative self-talk and have low self esteem.


A person living with social anxiety may particularly worry about social situations, such as:

  • Attending events and social gatherings, especially involving strangers
  • Work meetings and giving presentations
  • Meeting co-workers outside of an employment setting
  • Interacting with unfamiliar people or going to unfamiliar places
  • Making eye contact
  • Dating and relationships
  • Eating in front of others
  • Using public restrooms or other people’s restrooms
  • Entering places late or into a room where everyone is seated
  • Actions that draw attention to oneself.

You may not have all these symptoms, but if you have some, you should speak to your GP so that you can access the support available. It is important to receive support early because left untreated, social anxiety disorder may lead to other mental health conditions such as panic disorder, agoraphobia or depression.

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