Dealing with Social Anxiety

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Dealing with Social Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, is a persistent and extreme fear of being watched or judged by other people. People who have social anxiety might also be nervous or worried that they might do something embarrassing. This anxiety can last for days before and after an encounter that triggers the anxiety, and this might lead someone to avoid situations or places with lots of people. It can also make it difficult for people to take part in everyday activities, like work and school.

Social anxiety is not the same as being shy. Everyone feels shy once in a while, especially when meeting new people or in unfamiliar situations. But typically, shyness doesn't prevent people from taking part in activities that they enjoy.

What causes social anxiety?

Factors that might cause social anxiety include:

behavior learned by the people around you (especially parents)

life events like being bullied or more serious traumatic events that cause people to be fearful of certain situations

Getting help for social anxiety

People with social anxiety often know that their fears are irrational, but don't know how to control them. If you think you might have social anxiety, start by sharing your concerns with a trusted adult, friend or family member. It may also be important that you talk to a doctor, counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist, since these health professionals can help you begin to build the skills you need to manage anxiety.

Acknowledgement: Portions of this fact sheet were originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times.

Many articles in this section were adapted from, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth