Do You Have Social Anxiety?

Alex Robboy, CAS, MSW, LCSW
Individual, Couples & Family Therapy
IMAGO Certified Marriage Counselor
AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor
Founder & Director of the Center for Growth Inc.

Posted by: Alex Robboy
CAS, MSW, LCSW Individual, Couples & Family Therapy IMAGO Certified Marriage Counselor AASECT Certified Sex Therapist Supervisor Founder & Director of the Center for Growth Inc.
267-324-9564

Social Anxiety Treatment in Philadelphia: Do you have Social Anxiety? 

It is normal to be nervous, worried, uncomfortable or even anxious in some social situations.  It can be difficult even for people who do not have social anxiety to meet new people at a party, navigate a tense interaction at work or converse with difficult relatives at a family party.  If however this worry, nervousness, feelings of being uncomfortable, and anxiety seem to apply to almost all social situations you may have social anxiety.  People who have social anxiety will often feel overly aware of people’s reactions towards them and feel as though they are constantly being judged.  They might engage in obsession thinking about the social interactions and go out of their way to avoid social situations.  The condition can be limiting due to the excessive mental and emotion energy spent worrying about the interactions, as well as the excessive time spent trying to avoid social situations.  If you have ever wondered whether you have social anxiety, review the statements below and mark the ones that sound like you.   

Physical Symptoms of Social Anxiety

  • I can become so worried and upset about a social interaction before it even takes place that I make myself physically ill (vomiting, headache, sweating, heart palpitations, feeling flushed, panic attacks, hyperventilating, shaking, dizziness, nausea, blushing, tightness in chest, voice changes, diarrhea).
  • I experience physical symptoms of anxiety when interacting with most people (vomiting, headache, sweating, heart palpitations, feeling flushed, panic attacks, hyperventilating, dizziness, nausea, blushing, tightness in chest, voice changes, diarrhea)

 

Cognitive Symptoms of Social Anxiety

  • I spend excessive amounts of time worrying about a social interaction before it takes place.
  • My thoughts about a social interaction can feel out of control and obsessive.
  • When interacting with others I feel as though I am being judged or tested. 
  • The thought of being judged by others feels overwhelming and intolerable. 
  • I almost always think other people are aware of how nervous or foolish I appear.
  • I feel as though I will almost always embarrass myself in public. 
  • I believe that compared to other people, my fear of social interactions seems excessive.

 

Negative Impact of the Anxiety of Social Anxiety

  • I avoid most social situations.
  • I keep quiet or try to go unnoticed to avoid embarrassment or interacting with others.
  • I have received feedback from partners, friends and family, that my fear of social interactions seems unreasonable.
  • My relationships with partners, friends and family have been negatively impacted by my anxiety or my need to avoid social situations. 
  • My career or school performance has been negatively impacted by my anxiety or my need to avoid social situation. 
  • My anxiety or need to avoid social interactions has prevented me from being able to engage in a hobby or activity I would enjoy. 
  • I often feel physically, mentally and emotionally drained by my anxiety over interacting with others or from avoiding others. 
  • I abuse drugs and alcohol to make social interactions more comfortable. 
  • I almost always need to bring someone along with me to a social event. 

Take time to review the statements that you checked.  If you checked at least one from each category of symptoms you may have social anxiety.  The list above is not a diagnostic tool, but is a way for you to inventory what possible symptoms of social anxiety you do have.  Consulting with a mental health professional is the best way to get a full assessment and determine if you have social anxiety. If you live in Philadelphia, we have therapists that are trained to work with people struggling with social anxiety. 

If you have determined that you might have social anxiety disorder, the thought of working on this issue can be scary and overwhelming you might not even be able to imagine interacting with others without intense fear and anxiety.  Change is possible.  Try to be patient with yourself and recognize that it is normal and expected to be fearful of doing the work to make your social anxiety better.  At this stage, you do not need to worry about the work involved in creating the change.  To help motivate you to seek help to change and address your social anxiety disorder, it can be helpful to identify the benefits to working on your social anxiety.  Review the list below and check the statements below that resonate with you about why you would like to work on your social anxiety.  At the end of the exercise, if you have more than ten reasons checked, decide on the ten most important reasons.  List this reasons in general order of importance. 

I would like to…

  • Perform at the level I know I am capable of at my job (or school). 
  • Have more emotional energy.
  • Be more involved in my partner, friends or family’s lives.
  • Interact with strangers without feeling overwhelmed or physically ill.
  • Not personalize others’ actions.
  • Feel more confident in my ability to be around people.
  • Speak up for myself and my needs.
  • Go to a party or other social event.
  • Make more friends.
  • Model for my children how to cope with anxiety.
  • Engage in a hobby or activity that involves other people.
  • Have more time to do the things I enjoy.
  • Share my thoughts and opinions with others.
  • Have the mental space to worry about things that warrant actual worry.
  • Be more present for my partner, friends or family.
  • Realize that rejection is a part of life and that I am capable to tolerating this rejection.
  • Meet new people.
  • Speak in public (at work, in class, at a social event giving a toast).
  • Feel confident and comfortable making small talk with others.
  • Go on a date.
  • Have more people I feel close to and can rely on.
  • Attend a social event by myself.

 

Remember…Change is possible.  If you have identified important reasons to work on your social anxiety change is likely worthwhile.  Change is a long-term process that requires a lot of work but the benefits you will achieve in the end will be well worth it. If you struggle with Social Anxiety, and are seeking treatment in Center City Philadelphia call today to schedule an appointment 267-324-9564. Help is available.