People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) struggle with persistent fears that they will be scrutinized or ridiculed in social situations.
Sometimes people confuse shyness with SAD, but they are not the same thing. Shyness is a common personality characteristic that many people experience. With shyness, people tend to eventually warm up in socially situations, whereas people with social anxiety may continue to fear scrutiny. People with SAD also tend to persistently avoid social situations to a degree that can significantly interfere with the lives they want to be living.
Some people only experience significant social anxiety during very specific contexts—especially performance situations (e.g., public speaking). Other people experience significant social anxiety in a variety of social contexts, including meeting new people, attending social gatherings, or even typical day-to-day activities such as work or school.
People with SAD may experience intense anxiety in these types of situations. They may understand their fears are not based on fact, and that it is very unlikely anyone is judging them negatively. However, awareness does not ease the fear.
If you have any questions about whether you might have SAD, give one our clinicians a call. Our SAD specialists can often identify if someone may have SAD from a brief phone conversations. Sometimes, the symptoms are more ambiguous, and may require 1-2 in-person meetings.
SAD does not tend to respond to just talking about it and requires a more deliberate and structured approach. Contact us at the Portland Psychotherapy Anxiety Clinic to discuss treatment options.