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Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is one of the most common forms of anxiety.

Most of us may feel socially anxious at some point in our lives, but social anxiety disorder is much more than this. It’s an overwhelming fear of social situations, which impacts on everyday activities, such as talking to people, eating, drinking, or speaking in front of others. So much so, that it may stop you from doing or enjoying things.

Social anxiety can be linked to low confidence, and it might make you think negatively about what others think of you. It can also make you worry about embarrassing yourself in front of others.

This can have a huge impact on the way you live your life, affecting work or school life, social life, and relationships.

Symptoms may include:

  • Physical symptoms such as heart racing, dry mouth, needing the toilet, stomach butterflies, sweating, shaking, breathing quicker, or blushing.
  • Worrying about embarrassing yourself in front of others.
  • Negative thoughts about what others think of you.
  • Replaying past situations and thinking what you could have done differently.
  • Avoiding social settings which overwhelm or distress you.
  • Experiencing a panic attack.

Get support for social anxiety

You can learn more about social anxiety in the booklet and video on this page.