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What is Social Anxiety?


When interviewed by the media, I often find myself answering the question “What is Social Anxiety?

The crux of social anxiety is  an excessive  fear of being negatively evaluated. Sufferers worry that other people will consider they are e.g. boring or stupid or incompetent if they appear awkward,  say or do anything they consider is embarrassing, or make a mistake.


Social anxiety sufferers may also worry that they will appear visibly anxious and be judged harshly for being  anxious. Therefore may concerned that will  blush, sweat , shake or their voice will tremble


People with social phobia may choose to avoid situations they fear. However, very often, they may endure them but feel very self conscious and anxious and may even have a panic attack.

Some people may have only one social phobia, e.g. public speaking but other sufferers may have generalised social anxiety and fear many  scenarios which involve interaction with, or exposure to, people.


Social Anxiety Disorder  may involve fear of scenarios such as:

  • public speaking
  • meeting new people
  • speaking out in meetings
  • job interviews
  • being observed working
  • being observed eating
  • entering a room when others are already sitting down
  • hosting a party
  • using public toilets
  • interacting with authority figures
  • meeting strangers
  • expressing disagreement with people one does not know very well
  • initiating and/or  maintaining conversations
  • chatting up members of the opposite sex/same sex
  • playing an instrument or singing in public
  • playing sport in public
  • doing an exam
  • speaking on the phone when others are present


It is important that health professionals and members of the public understand what is social anxiety disorder as this condition often goes untreated. Very often social phobia is misdiagnosed as panic disorder because sufferers often have panic attacks.


Clinical Psychologist Catherine Madigan  treats social anxiety disorder so call now on 0429 88 3671 for an appointment or email anxietyaustralia.com.au@gmail.com



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