Welcome ! What are Social Phobias?

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  • Don't Panic,
    Chapter 20.
    The Fear of Being Seen:
    How to Face Social Anxieties

Learn about social anxiety, social phobia - people who are excessively fearful that others will criticize their public behavior. Plus self-help information for social phobia.Everyone is capable of getting nervous when in a socially awkward situation. And many people worry about giving formal presentations. Some people, however, suffer more than the occasional jitters. People who are socially anxious are excessively fearful that others will criticize their public behavior. They worry that they will appear inarticulate or stupid, or show embarrassing signs that they are anxious or weak. It is this feared disapproval from others that causes their distress.

The socially anxious person seeks ways to avoid this risk whenever possible, feels significant anxiety long before the event, and continues experiencing anxiety and worry throughout the performance. After the event, he analyzes his every move and negatively interprets the response of others, even though the "performance" might have been the simple act of eating a sandwich at a fast food restaurant.

Almost all socially anxious people fear public speaking. The four other top ranking fears are: eating in public, signing one's name or writing in public, using public bathrooms and being the center of attention.

When facing a feared situation, the socially anxious person experiences many of the same worried thoughts and physical symptoms as those during a panic attack. However certain bodily symptoms -- rapid heart rate, trembling voice, shaking hands, sweating and blushing -- are more common and can be more distressing because they might be seen by others. Some people, when they become extremely anxious, will feel as if they can't move their body, like they are frozen in place (called atomic immobility).

In this self-help site, you will learn a great deal about your distress and how to help yourself. The work is not easy. In fact, it's downright anxiety-provoking! But you can get stronger. Stay with it, and let your friends and family help you progress.

next: The Seven Issues in Recovery From Social Anxiety
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APA Reference
Writer, H. (2009, January 9). Welcome ! What are Social Phobias?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 18 from

Last Updated: June 30, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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