Social Anxiety Disorder
This is an extreme anxiety about being negatively evaluated or scrutinized by others and/or being publicly embarrassed. Thoughts like, “I’ll die of embarrassment” or “What will they think of me if I do that,” dominate one's thoughts. Sufferers may have:
- difficulty eating or writing in public
- difficulty maintaining eye contact
- blushing, sweating, dry mouth, racing heart in social interactions
People often have unrealistic assumptions about their competence to interact with others in a social setting, and they might see themselves as ‘losers’, ‘stupid,’ or ‘boring’, when in fact they are very intelligent and capable. Self-confidence and self-esteem are typically low.
Withdrawal from and even avoidance of social settings may develop if the problem is left untreated, thus affecting one's work, school, and personal relationships. Other socially anxious people may still engage in social activities, but they might suffer severe anxiety before, during, and afterward.
"I've been at this job for two years and I like my work. Somehow, I still don’t feel I belong. The girls ask me to sit with them for lunch, and I always make an excuse that I'm too busy, so I munch on my food at my desk or I don’t eat until I get home. The real reason is, I feel so uncomfortable with them. I can never think of anything interesting to say. I get really nervous, then my face gets hot and red. Then my hands start shaking and I'll think they'll notice and wonder what is wrong with me. That makes me even more anxious."