7 Things People Don't Realize You Do Because You Have Social Anxiety

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woman with hidden social anxiety

Social anxiety disorder goes beyond being shy or introverted. It involves an extreme fear of social interaction and it interferes with an individual's daily life.

The symptoms usually begin around age 13 and persist into adulthood. However, most people with social anxiety disorder wait at least 10 years or more to get help, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

This is mostly because many of those with anxiety actually have hidden social anxiety, which is when people actively hide how fearful they are.

Common signs of hidden anxiety include:

  • Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself
  • Having an intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers
  • Fearing that others will notice that you look anxious
  • Blushing, sweating, trembling, or having a shaky voice

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Whether you think you may have social anxiety, or suspect that someone you know might, here are some of the most common hidden social anxiety disorder symptoms.

7 Hidden Anxiety Signs and Symptoms

1. They imagine embarrassing themselves.

Whether they're about to meet a new person or they're walking into a social gathering, people with social anxiety disorder often imagine scenarios where they embarrass themselves in front of others.

They worry that they'll say or do the wrong thing, and they picture that behavior horrifying other people.

2. They avoid situations in which they'll be judged.

Social anxiety causes people to think things like, "Other people will think I'm stupid," or, "I'll mess up and everyone is going to think I'm a loser." Their extreme fear of rejection or being judged causes them to steer clear of uncertain social situations whenever possible.

3. They only feel comfortable with a few specific people.

Most people with social anxiety feel comfortable with a few specific individuals, such as a best friend, a parent, or a sibling. Interacting with other individuals can lead to a serious spike in anxiety.

Often, taking a "safe" person to the grocery store or a social gathering makes interactions a lot less daunting.

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4. They worry that other people will notice their fear.

Whether they speak up in a meeting or try to make small talk with an acquaintance, people with social anxiety worry that their anxiety is noticeable.

They tend to experience physical symptoms such as a flushed face, sweaty palms, trembling hands or shortness of breath, and they're convinced that everyone else can tell when they're nervous.

5. They experience particular social fears.

For some people with social anxiety, the fear is contained to public speaking. But others experience extreme anxiety over things like writing in front of others or eating in public places. Many people with social anxiety fear talking on the phone as well.

6. They criticize their own social skills.

People with social anxiety spend a lot of time analyzing their social interactions. They replay conversations in their minds over and over and scrutinize their communication. They exaggerate their flaws and judge themselves harshly.

7. Their thoughts often become self-fulfilling prophecies.

The negative thoughts associated with social anxiety often turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.

Someone who thinks, "People always think I'm weird," may stick to themselves during social engagements. Their aloofness may discourage others from talking to them, reinforcing their belief that he or she is socially awkward.

How To Get Help

Social anxiety is a very treatable condition. Therapy, medication, or a combination of the two can often alleviate the symptoms.

If you think you may have social anxiety, talk to your doctor. A physician can rule out medical issues that could be contributing to the symptoms and can refer you for appropriate psychological treatment if necessary.

By recognizing these hidden social anxiety symptoms and seeking help, individuals can overcome the challenges of social anxiety disorder and lead fulfilling lives.

RELATED: 30 Reasons People With Anxiety Can't Fall Asleep At Night

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, college psychology instructor, and internationally recognized expert on mental strength. Her advice has been featured on Today, Good Morning America, Time, Fast Company, Success, CNN, CNBC, and Fox News.

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.