Understanding Social Anxiety: What it is and how it affects Teens

Social Anxiety is a psychological concept used to describe a kind of phobia; an overwhelming fear of being judged or embarrassed in public. Please note that this fear is beyond the usual discomfort associated with speaking in front of a large crowd. You can also feel really scared of even showing up in small gatherings including going to school and sitting in class. This is because when you have Social Anxiety, the mere thought of going to some places or being in some situations will make you so uncomfortable so much so you will get scared just thinking about it. And in a bid to avoid being in such situations, you may end up isolating yourself.

What triggers Social Anxiety in teens?

1. Being called on in class to speak may trigger social anxiety. Bullying can also be a factor.

2. Being in public, using public spaces such as bathrooms, cafeterias, parties and any such related situations can lead to panic attacks.

3. In some extreme cases, being scrutinized while performing a task or even being the center of attention could be a major problem.

What are the emotional, physical and behavioural symptoms of Social Anxiety?

1. Extreme shyness and anxiety in everyday social situations, like eating at the cafeteria table or working on a group project

2. Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming party or event

3. Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others, especially by people you don’t know

4. Fear that you’ll act in ways that that will embarrass or humiliate yourself, like saying the wrong thing or falling down in front of others

5. Fear that others will notice that you’re nervous

6. Unexplained blushes

7. Shortness of breath

8. Upset stomach, nausea (i.e. butterflies)

9. Trembling or shaking (including shaky voice)

10. Fast-beating heart or tightness in chest

11. Sweating

12. Feeling dizzy

13. The need to avoid social situations so much that you can’t join in activities that normally make you happy

14. Staying quiet or hiding in the background so that no one will notice you

15. A need to always bring a friend along with you wherever you go

How can affected teenagers cope?

1. Talk to someone you trust

2. Challenge your negative thoughts

3. In the moment, focus on your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement

4. Learn how to control your breathing

5. Get enough quality sleep at night

6. Face your smallest anxieties and move your way up to bigger ones



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