Social anxiety is an extreme fear of everyday interactions with both mental and physical symptoms. Nearly 15 million Americans are affected but less than 5% seek treatment.
Social anxiety disorder is more than just feeling shy or nervous speaking in front of a crowd. It is a mental health condition where irrational anxiety is caused by everyday social interactions, such as talking to strangers, making eye contact, speaking in public, attending a party, and more. Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder is defined as an intense fear of being judged, accidentally offending someone, being rejected by peers, being the center of attention, or feeling extreme embarrassment. In addition to the mental strain of this anxiety, physical symptoms may appear as well. These may include rapid heartbeat, out-of-body sensations, dizziness or lightheadedness, inability to catch your breath, sweating and stomach trouble.
Nearly 15 million Americans are affected by social anxiety disorder, making it the second most diagnosed anxiety disorder (following specific phobia). Although it usually manifests in the teenage years, many individuals do report experiencing extreme shyness in childhood. Treatment for social anxiety disorder may include psychotherapy and antidepressants, which can help individuals overcome low self-confidence and the fear of interacting with others. Although treatments are available, less than 5% of people suffering from social anxiety disorder seek and receive treatment in the first year after onset, while more than one-third of people wait ten or more years before reaching out for help.