If you feel overwhelmed by these extreme feelings, it’s likely you are suffering from social anxiety disorder or social phobia. This kind of phobia is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to feel so extremely shy and self-conscious that it turns into an overwhelming fear. That fear then causes social phobics to avoid socialising—avoiding the thing they dread the most. People with this kind of phobia tend to avoid eye contact and conversations, and shy away from other people or social activities. As a result, social phobics have few friends.Not all social phobics are recluse though. They can usually interact easily with family and a few close friends, but when they are meeting new people or speaking in public, that is when they feel exposed and develop an acute sense that people are looking at them and making judgments. The physical symptoms include blushing, excessive sweating, nausea, difficulty breathing, shaking and palpitations. In some instances, social phobics even cry.
Social phobia is normally diagnosed at around 13 years of age, and according to research, it takes about 10 years for 36 per cent of people with social anxiety disorder to seek help for the problem. Although social phobics know their fear is excessive and unreasonable, they feel powerless against their anxiety and are always terrified of embarrassing or humiliating themselves. Social phobia can have a crippling effect: Young people with social anxiety disorder tend to grow up choosing situations that require less involvement with other people, so they miss out on a lot of opportunities.