Social anxiety

Do you… ?

  • Have a strong feeling of fear in social situations that won’t go away?
  • Think others may notice this?
  • Think you may act in a way that will be embarrassing in front of others?
  • Feel trapped by this fear and as a result are unable to live your life how you would like to?

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) is a persistent fear about social situations and being around people. It’s one of the most common anxiety disorders.

Much more than just “shyness”, social anxiety disorder causes intense, overwhelming fear over everyday activities like shopping or speaking on the phone. People affected by it may fear doing or saying something they think will be humiliating or embarrassing.

Social anxiety disorder disrupts normal life; interfering with social relationships and quality of life, and impairing performance at work or school. It can therefore often result in feelings of low mood and depression as well as symptoms of panic.

How common is it?

Social Phobia (SP) is a common anxiety disorder and an average of 10% of people will experience it at some point in their life.

What can I do about it?

NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommends Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Social Anxiety. Guided Self Help, medication or short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy may also be of benefit. Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from one of these types of treatment or a combination of the two.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective types of treatment for social anxiety disorder. Generally, CBT helps you to identify unhelpful and unrealistic beliefs and behavioural patterns. You and your therapist work together to change your behaviour and replace unhelpful beliefs with more realistic and balanced ones. CBT teaches you new skills and helps you understand how to react more positively to situations that would usually cause you anxiety.  CBT may take place one-to-one or in a group of other people with Social Anxiety

Guided self-help. If you wish to try a different psychological therapy to CBT, you may be offered supported self-help. You may, for example, be guided through a CBT-based book by a Primary Care Mental Health Worker.

If you would like to know more about Guided Self Help or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, please contact us. Alternatively, you may wish to speak to your GP about a referral to our service.

Acknowledgement of references