Social Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Katie Rapkoch, CHPC

Published on

January 18, 2024

Updated on

January 18, 2024

Medically reviewed by

Ben Ahrens, HHP

Social anxiety is a mental health condition that people around the world struggle with within their daily lives. This usually is most associated with the fear of being watched or judged by others, specifically in more extensive social situations. It is also known as a social phobia. Anxiety is related to the fear that arises before something happens, while a phobia is an irrational fear of specific items, such as larger social gatherings. Researchers report that nearly 12% of all adults in the United States experience a social anxiety disorder, more common in females than males. Furthermore, the issues regarding collective social anxiety have only increased since the beginning of the pandemic[1], causing more cause for concern for individuals who feel that they do not have an escape from their fears. Many more people are handling the symptoms of anxiety on their own as a result of the trauma they have faced during the pandemic and with lockdowns. Despite the symptoms and the experience many people have with this disorder, it is entirely treatable. It is also a pervasive disorder, so you are not alone in your experiences as you find it challenging to socialize and be out with others in society. There are many specific triggers that people experience, and they differ from person to person. However, a significant study[2] on social anxiety has also revealed particular symptoms that people regularly face with this condition. Let’s discuss some of the symptoms, risk factors, and causes, treatments, how it is diagnosed, and how people cope with this condition in their daily lives.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

There are several symptoms of social anxiety ranging from psychological to mental to even physical. Here are some of the main signs[3] that people often report when they struggle with this disorder:

  • Blushing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mind “blanks out”
  • Panic or panic attacks
  • Anxiety or feeling anxious in front of others
  • Intense fear of judgment
  • Fear or dread in social situations
  • Very self-conscious, embarrassed, or even awkward with others
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Avoidance of triggers and social interaction
  • Rigid body position and soft voice in social situations
  • Cannot or struggles to make eye contact
  • Sensitive to criticism
  • Low self-esteem
  • Chronic negative self-talk

It should be noted that these vary from person to person, and they are not always going to be present in the same manner in each specific person. In addition, for kids, some of the symptoms might vary as well.

Kids might have more emotional outbursts such as tantrums, crying, or fearing the thought of leaving their caregiver in a social setting. These symptoms will present differently in specific situations. Still, if people have a few of the same symptoms with specific triggers in social settings, it might be a sign that there needs to be an assessment regarding this condition with a medical professional.

Causes and Risk Factors of Social Anxiety

The causes and the risk factors can be complex, and they are not always the same for each individual. That’s why medical professionals will have to thoroughly assess every patient to ensure that they have signs of the disorder, rather than attempting a one-size-fits-all approach.

Some of the possible causes or risk factors are rooted in genetics. For example, if someone’s father or mother has social anxiety, they will likely develop the same condition. Another causation happens to be specific life events that prove to be adverse and cause the individual significant stress and damage to their mental health. These can be troubling and cause the person undesired stress and even anxiety.

Parenting can also lead to how people develop certain disorders. For example, if parents are too protective, their kids can develop irrational fears about the world around them and prove to be unable to cope with ordinary stressors and interactions.

It is important to note that someone who has a genetic connection to a parent or relative with a social anxiety disorder does not mean that they will develop the condition. It simply means there is a higher risk associated with their potential to develop the disease. These causes and risk factors vary from person to person, but they can produce the disorder and its symptoms in individuals.

How Social Anxiety is Diagnosed

Diagnosing social anxiety involves many steps to be sure that the patient has been experiencing this specific disorder. Other conditions mirror some of the symptoms of social anxiety, but the diagnosis process is about the same for most situations that involve stress. First, a doctor will begin by assessing the amount of stress and anxiety the individual faces in social situations. This involves asking and answering questions, gauging the individual’s pressure, and evaluating if further research needs to be involved. For the individual to be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, the individual will have to present the following:

  • Persistent fear of social situations or one specific situation socially
  • Fear of acting in a way that is perceived negatively by others
  • Avoiding social problems that might produce anxiety
  • Experiencing these symptoms for six months or longer
  • The patient shows signs of disruption in one’s daily life as a result of their conditio

If these are satisfied, the doctor will likely conclude that the individual has the condition and will find a way to help them treat their disorder to alleviate their daily concerns and disruptions.

How Social Anxiety is Treated

It should be noted that there are many viable options for treatment. Still, it is reported that only 5% of all individuals who suffer from social anxiety seek treatment for their condition. Depending on the severity of the situation, individuals should look into ways to help mitigate their condition and alleviate their stress. Here are some of the most common treatment options[4] for the individuals who are seeking help from this situation:


While some might not think of this as the first optimal option for their social anxiety disorder, this can significantly help. One of the primary methods that have been used for many years is cognitive behavior therapy, also known as CBT. CBT helps you to understand how, why, and the ways that you respond to specific situations.

It can help you learn more about yourself and learn coping mechanisms as well. This can be done in groups or even individually. However, it should be noted that not every individual responds to this treatment. While it helps and is non-medicated, it is still not adequate for those who need more interaction to overcome their situation.

Support Groups

For those who want to have community support from others, this can be a fantastic option! People can attend these groups and share their stories, learn that they are not alone, and talk through solutions with their group and their group leader. These are great and have been used for other conditions as well.

There is one issue to note, however, and that is that it is a group setting. Not everyone feels comfortable attending these group therapies, which is why other methods must be sought after. Additionally, people might also suffer from a chemical imbalance that support groups cannot repair independently.


For those who genuinely suffer from their condition, medication is one of the more promising choices because it can help with chemical imbalances. Some of the most common forms of treatment in this category include prescribing anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, or even beta-blockers. While this is old, tried, and valid for treating conditions like social anxiety, people should be wary of using this and becoming dependent on it. re-origin believes that medication should be the last option. This is because you cannot take these pills for a long time or have the exact dosage forever. You will build up a tolerance that people often are not aware of, which can cause people to take more and more or become dependent on them. This may be fine for acute instances, but ultimately does not address the root cause of the problem. Any time you put a foreign substance into the body, you disrupt the body’s natural processes. So even if your systems are struggling due to your social anxiety, you still should not seek this out as the first solution to your situation. This is especially true of beta-blockers, which stop the physical symptoms rather than repairing the loop causing you these symptoms.

Neuroplasticity training

Neuroplasticity involves rewiring your brain and retraining the loops that are failing you at the current time. Again, your condition is not you, but you still have a system that needs to be coaxed into the proper path to relieve you of your symptoms.

With social anxiety, your root cause is that you have a trigger, and your body fights to respond to stress. Instead of allowing your body to continue coping with the situation through avoidance behavior, re-origin’s proprietary solution will help you face your fears and uncover the path to rewiring your response to your trigger. We can help you by training your body to recognize that the trigger is not fear-inducing, that you can control your situation, and that you can overcome this specific situation. The benefit is that there are no medications, and you can do this on your own time. This treatment is up to you. At re-origin, we help to empower you to see that you are in charge of how you take control of your treatment through our heavily supported program.

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How to Live and Cope with Social Anxiety

You might think that you have to live with social anxiety, but you do not have to live with it your entire life. Our goal is to help you overcome your social fear, eliminate the need for medication, and begin to live a peaceful and happy life once more. Through gradual exposure, we believe that you can indeed train your brain to recognize that there is no danger and that you are allowed to feel in control and comfortable in social situations. This incremental training is part of our neuroplasticity program that we can offer you to help you eliminate your social anxiety symptoms over time.

The key is to make sure that you follow a proven system born out of proven methodologies. Fortunately, we have spent the time and effort to research what we have created at re-origin. After numerous studies and experience with this condition, we trust and believe our program is one of the best to help you not only cope with your situation but train yourself out of the symptoms and find peace in your life again.

Conclusion and Final Word from re-origin

More than anything, we want to communicate to you that social anxiety disorder is not a unique condition, and you are not alone. It is not all just in your head, and there is a way for you to overcome these challenges that you face in your daily life. With our help, we hope to alleviate your concerns, help you find peace, and retrain your brain to be able to spend time with friends and family again, stress-free and anxiety-free.


How Do You Know You Have Social Anxiety?
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Finding out if you have social anxiety can be done individually or even if you see a doctor. However, if you find yourself experiencing any of the above symptoms and notice that your responses are more extreme than others around you, you might have social anxiety. To confirm this diagnosis, see your doctor today to get adequately assessed for this condition.

How Do You Deal with Social Anxiety?
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While some might tell you that you have to live with your social anxiety, re-origin does not believe that you have to deal with your social anxiety. There’s no reason for you to avoid the world and avoid social interactions. While you might have to manage where and when you go out to spend time with friends, you should always be looking for ways to alleviate your concerns and your anxiety when you are out in public. Through our program, you can deal with stress and finally rid yourself of these symptoms.

Can Social Anxiety be Cured?
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There is some truth to believing, through neuroplasticity, that social anxiety can be eliminated. But, of course, everyone experiences social concerns from time to time. Still, severe cases can be cured through proper treatment, assessment, and commitment to introducing yourself to the trigger through incremental steps.

Can You Self-Diagnose Social Anxiety?
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You might be able to identify if you have social anxiety on your own, but you should always seek the guidance of a healthcare professional. When you approach them with your symptoms, they will confirm if your suspicions are confirmed. However, there is the chance that you might have generalized anxiety or even another anxiety disorder. For this reason, we always promote involving your primary care physician to ensure that you fully understand your condition and what exactly your symptoms represent.

What is the Root Cause of Social Anxiety?
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At re-origin, we believe that social anxiety is born from a traumatic event or even the conditioning of one’s environment. For example, if you have overprotective parents or even suffered a humiliating experience in front of many people, you might have very well developed social anxiety. Every person’s experience is different, but the root causes are usually within a social event or interaction that went wrong and was traumatic for you to experience.


Katie Rapkoch, CHPC