Social Phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder

Many adults, adolescents, and children are affected by Social Anxiety Disorder. About 5%-10% of the US population is affected by social phobia. If we apply those numbers to Canadians, that’s about 1.7 million to 3.5 million people who experience these overwhelming feelings. The good part is, there are many professionals that can help.

People diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder often feel a lot of fear and worry when they have to interact with other people – this is especially true when they are the center of attention. This fear and worry is usually linked to the person thinking that they’ll do something that might embarrass themselves in front of everyone else. While everyone has felt this to some extent, these feelings can affect people with Social Anxiety Disorder to a different degree. The feelings may interfere with their well-being, relationships, and their lives in general. Children and youth diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder might avoid:

  • Talking to others
  • Going to school
  • Going to birthday parties and other social events
  • Talking on the phone
  • Presenting in front of others
  • Eating in front of others
  • Using public washrooms

Situations like the above that may require being around others may make people with Social Anxiety Disorder feel more than nervous or shy. They may feel:

  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear that they will embarrass themselves
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Blushing
  • Trembling

Overall, this can harm someone’s self esteem. This is why it’s important to talk to doctor, psychotherapist, and/or psychologist or other health care professionals if you suspect that you or someone you know has Social Anxiety Disorder. There are many forms of treatment for social anxiety. Contact your healthcare provider for resources.

If you are someone who has been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and want to learn what you can do in addition to speaking to a health care professional, read this blog post: 4 Ways to Manage your Anxiety.


teenager sitting on stool in a thinking position


Some adults don’t know how to support people with Social Anxiety Disorder because they don’t have a deep understanding of this mental health issue and that is understandable. Everyone’s got to start somewhere. Here is a good place to start:

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