What to Look For

In this section, you can learn about the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical symptoms associated with social anxiety. The symptoms listed are ones that emerge early on and there may be other symptoms that develop later.

Click on the boxes in the image below to learn more about the symptoms of social anxiety.

Behaviours: Stay awake or hide in the background so others won't notice you. Sit alone to avoid being with others. Need to have a few drinks to calm your nerves before a social event. Avoid social situations when possible, especially if they include people you don't know. Freeze up when you talk with someone you don't know. Avoid eye contact with others. Have problems speaking in public (reading out loud, answering questions).
Feelings: Feel very stressed if others are watching you, especially people you don't know. Want to make more friends or socialize more, but fear stops you. Feel a lot of distress when you are the centre of attention. Experience and unexpected rush of intense fear.
Physical Signs: Blush. Sweat a lot. Shake or tremble. Have a dry throat, upset stomach or nausea. Feel faint or short of breath. Feel your heart is racing or beating too fast. Have a problem speaking (shaky voice or stammering).
Thoughts: Worry constantly that others think poorly of you. Replay conversations of social experiences in your mind, thinking what you should have said or done differently. Worry excessively about almost any social event. Believe that others think you are boring and uninteresting. Worry you will do something embarrassing, say the wrong thing, or that others will laugh at you. Think others will notice that you're nervous, sweating or blushing.

Symptoms can range in

  • intensity from mild to severe
  • how long they’ve been going on
  • how much they interfere in daily life

Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms or to the same level. A person may be diagnosed with a mental health disorder when symptoms persist, are very distressing and interfere in a person’s life.

Being able to spot these symptoms and taking action can prevent problems from getting worse.

Concerned About a Friend?

Often friends notice changes that may signal an emerging mental health challenge. For information on how to support a friend, visit Supporting your friend through tough times.