Social Anxiety

Social anxiety Disorder (sometimes known as social phobia) is the most common anxiety – nearly everyone suffers from this occasionally. Most of us can recall a time when we felt embarrassed in public. Social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) is a more extreme and persistent kind of social anxiety that interferes with someone’s life. People who suffer from social anxiety disorder feel extremely nervous about being around other people. Talking to people or knowing that they are being observed, makes someone with social anxiety feel very worried and self-conscious. This makes it hard to feel at ease around other people and make conversation. They might fear that they will do or say something embarrassing or humiliating and that other people will judge or criticise them.

People with social anxiety don’t have to actually do something embarrassing or humiliating to feel distressed – they just have to think that they might do something, or that they already have done, and that other people have noticed. They may feel at times that they want they floor to open and swallow them up.

Social anxiety affects millions of people worldwide. It can be a major barrier to leading a full, happy life. People with social anxiety often have difficulty forming social relationships and may feel anxious or self-conscious in social settings. This can make it difficult to maintain friendships or romantic relationships. Social anxiety can make it feel almost impossible to go out and interact with people, resulting in significant loss of self-confidence and feelings of humiliation.

People with social anxiety may avoid public speaking, meeting new people, and other activities that might be considered “normal” parts of life. They might also avoid certain occupations that involve significant interaction with others, such as becoming a doctor, lawyer, firefighter, or athlete. In severe cases, social anxiety can be debilitating, preventing individuals from going to work or school, maintaining normal relationships with family or friends, or participating in everyday activities such as grocery shopping or eating out with friends.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can lead to symptoms in your body, your feelings, your thinking and your behaviour. When you are anxious in social situations you might feel some of the following symptoms:

Effects on your body

  • Shaking or trembling
  • Sweating
  • Blushing
  • Feeling hot
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle tension

Effects on your emotions:

  • Panicky feelings
  • Fear or nervousness
  • Frustration or irritation
  • Shame
  • Feeling low, sad or hopeless
NHS Social Anxiety Services in City & Hackney

If you live in City and Hackney and are aged 18 or over, you can access NHS psychological therapies (IAPT) services to receive help with Social Anxiety

You can refer yourself directly or via your GP

Refer Me – Get NHS help

Call 999 or go to A&E now if:
  • someone’s life is at risk – for example they have seriously injured themselves or taken an overdose
  • you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe

A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical one. You will not be wasting anyone’s time.

Call: 999

 Find your nearest A&E

Effects on your behaviour:

  • Avoiding people or social activities
  • Trying not to draw attention to yourself
  • Escaping from events you find uncomfortable

Effects on your thinking:

  • Becoming very self-conscious or self-aware
  • Being very self-critical of things you think you have done wrong
  • Believing that you are inadequate or not good enough
  • Worrying about what other people think of you

These symptoms are often closely linked. For example you might not be able to think of anything to say so you feel upset and self-conscious, feel hot and start to blush and then leave the room.

Talk to us about therapy for Social Anxiety if you are registered with a GP in City and Hackney

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Causes of Social Anxiety

The causes of social anxiety are complex, and they vary from person to person. It often starts around adolescence and affects both men and women equally. The most common anxiety is speaking in public. Social anxiety is a more extreme from of normal social anxiety. People with social anxiety think they will do something embarrassing and that other people will judge them harshly.

How to Get Help for Social Anxiety

If you experience persistent anxiety about being around other people, you can overcome it with the right treatment. The most effective psychological therapy for Social Anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Effective Therapies for Social Anxiety

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to identify, understand, and change the thoughts and behaviours that contribute to your social anxiety. Thinking about how badly you might be coming across to other people will make anyone feel anxious in a social situation. CBT helps you to see things differently so you feel less anxious. It helps you to start to make changes so that you increase your confidence in social situations. The good news is that CBT for social anxiety disorder is very effective, most people make big improvements and many recover completely with the right help.

Need Urgent Help?

If you need urgent help and are worried that you can’t keep yourself safe, City and Hackney has a 24-hour Crisis helpline on 0800 073 0006 or you can get help at your local Accident and Emergency department.