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Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

The content below is part of the “Health Library” and is not indicative of services available at the facility.

Social anxiety disorder may cause the following symptoms during social interactions:

  • Blushing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling
  • Dry throat and mouth
  • Muscle twitches
  • Intense anxiety
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heart beat

These visible symptoms can heighten the fear of disapproval and the symptoms themselves can become an additional focus of fear. Fear of symptoms can create a vicious cycle: you may worry about having these symptoms, which makes you more likely to actually experience them.

Any public situation, familiar or unfamiliar, formal or informal, can lead to symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Common examples include:

  • Being teased or criticized
  • Being the center of attention
  • Meeting new people
  • Interacting with authority figures
  • Interacting with members of the opposite sex
  • Eating, writing, or speaking in public
  • Using public toilets

Social anxiety disorder can be broken into 2 categories.

  • The specific or performance type—Limited to only one type of situation, such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others.
  • The most severe form (the generalized type of social anxiety disorder)—The presence of other people may cause symptoms.

Revision Information

  • Schneier FR. Clinical practice. Social anxiety disorder. N Engl J Med. 2006;355(10):1029-1036.

  • Social anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115906/Social-anxiety-disorder. Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed October 5, 2016.

  • Social phobia (social anxiety disorder). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/social-phobia-social-anxiety-disorder/index.shtml. Accessed December 23, 2015.