Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms


The three names for social anxiety that are used commonly are

  • ·      Social Anxiety
  • ·      Social Anxiety Disorder
  • ·      Social Phobia

The social anxiety disorder symptoms differ as follow:-

To differentiate

Social anxiety is the term used to describe the underlying fear of appearing in public and being judged by others. It is an irrational fear but very real to the sufferer. It can be general or specific. For example a specific fear is just public speaking, a general one is when the many social situations are feared

Social Anxiety Disorder is the term used by those medical professionals diagnosing the disorder. The descripion is used where the anxiety has become debilitating. It is differentiated from social anxiety by its intensity. For example overwhelming panic attacks may occur when the fear is really intense. For people struggling with social anxiety this intensity is not reached.

Social Phobia appears to be used interchangeably with both the above terms.

Social anxiety disorder symptoms are explained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 40) I have simplified the criteria from DSM – vi for social phobia are as follows:


  • The person has a marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations when exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.
  • The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be humiliating or embarrassing.
  • Exposure to the feared social situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, which may take the form of a panic attack.
  • The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable.
  • The feared social or performance situations are avoided or are endured with intense anxiety or distress.
  • The avoidance, anxious anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation interferes significantly with the person's normal routine, occupational (academic) functioning, or social activities or relationships; alternatively, the patient has marked distress about having the phobia.
  • In individuals younger than 18 years, the duration is at least 6 months.
  • The fear or avoidance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (eg, drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition and is not better accounted for by another mental disorder
  • Social phobia typically manifests in middle childhood, at approximately age 10 years. Adolescents (age 11-12 y) may avoid age-appropriate social activities, such as attending parties and dating. Symptoms of social phobia in younger children include crying, temper tantrums, fidgeting, somatic complaints, and avoidance and withdrawal from social situations.

Copyright 1994, The American Psychiatric Association

* Note The mention of Panic Attack in point 3 is not the same as in panic disorder but specifically related to social situations.


Please note to have a proper diagnosis one would need to consult a mental health professional. This is just for information only.


Return Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms  to Help for your Anxiety in Bradford, Keighley, Leeds and Skipton areas.