Shyness / Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) is a persistent fear about social situations and being around people. It’s one of the most common anxiety disorders. Much more than just “shyness”, social anxiety causes intense, overwhelming fear over what may just be an everyday activity like shopping or speaking on the phone. People affected by it may fear doing or saying something they think will be humiliating. Social anxiety disorder disrupts normal life, interfering with social relationships and quality of life, and impairing performance at work or school. It’s generally more common in women than men and often starts in adolescence or sometimes as early as childhood.
Sometimes, the fear and anxiety of a social situation can build up to a panic attack, a period of usually just a few minutes when the person feels an overwhelming sense of fear, apprehension and anxiety. There may be physical symptoms too, such as feeling sick, sweating, trembling and having heart palpitations. These feelings reach a peak and then pass rapidly. They are alarming but cannot cause any physical harm.