Social anxiety disorder is marked by an overpowering sense of anxiety and self-consciousness during regular social activities. Durings its preliminary stages or in its mild form, it can be restricted to a certain situation (e.g., public speaking, drinking or eating where people can see you, etc.) and can be mistaken for shyness or introversion.
However, for people suffering from its advance form, social anxiety disorder can mean debilitating symptoms whenever the individual is around other persons, no matter what the situation.
Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder
The people and family members around a person with the disorder (also called SAD) may simply think that the person is introverted or unusually shy. In fact, if a person with SAD avoids social situations and develops some skill in suppressing reactions, the illness may go undetected for years.
However, SAD is a progressive disorder and will eventually turn into a phobia so intense that it interferes with school, work, and even everyday chores that require social contact.
The signs of SAD to watch out for are:
* An intense fear and embarrassment at being seen by other people
* Persistent feelings that the people who see them are judging them
* A chronic dread at being humiliated due to their actions
The physical signs of this disorder are:
* Intense stomach aches/nausea
* Profuse sweating/trembling
* Speech difficulties
* Stomach upset
Other signs include being afraid of meeting people, afraid of talking to strangers, avoidance social activities, wanting to be alone most of the time and life seems like it’s a struggle every day because they don’t know who are they going to have to talk to.
Secondary Signs of Social Anxiety
The signs that are associated with this disorder are often primary signs (e.g., trembling, nausea, profuse sweating, etc.) that occur as the illness progresses. However, there are also secondary signs that have to be addressed, especially as they occur early on when the disorder is easier to deal with.
An example of a secondary sign is something as subtle as a fear of writing in public. The sufferer fears that the people around him are watching him and may see his hand shake. Another is an intense aversion to eating with other people.
The illness can also be manifested as an anxiety concentrated on a certain part of the sufferer’s body, such as the neck. The person may feel that his neck looks particularly strange and if he exposes it, people will stare.
The thing that all people afflicted with social anxiety is this: they KNOW that their anxiety is irrational. They fully understand that other people are truly not as critical or judgmental as their anxiety shows, and yet they cannot stop themselves from feeling it.