Facts about social anxiety disorder (and 4 ways to treat it)

Not many people understand the daily trouble of living with social anxiety disorder (SAD).


Here are some facts that may help you to learn about this common disorder: 

  • It typically starts in childhood or adolescence.
  • People with SAD often identify the age of about 25 as the worst period of their lives.
  • Women are more likely to experience social anxiety than men.
  • Lower wages in the school than the non-clinical population.
  • Financial independence is more difficult to achieve.
  • They may never be able to recall a time when they were free from social anxiety.
  • Four out of five adults with SAD will experience at least one other psychiatric disorder during their lifetime (nicotine dependence, substance-use disorder, or depression).
  • It's more common than the major autoimmune conditions put together (rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, lupus, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, uveitis, hypo-hyperthyroidism).
  • It has lifetime prevalence rates of up to 12% in the UK.
  • SAD is underdiagnosed, impairing, and treatable.

How can SAD affect people?

Imagine a life without dinners out, no parties, no pubs, no playing football or meeting friends; But instead, a constant worry and low self-esteem which can lead to:

  • Having fewer friends.
  • Mainly having contact with only close relatives.
  • Struggling to maintain romantic relationships.
  • Struggling with jobs that require social skills. 

It can be described as living in fear, an intense self-consciousness, and excessive worry about being judged, watched, and humiliated all the time. Worrying can start weeks in advance of an anticipated social situation. 

People with SAD often criticise their own social skills, exaggerate their flaws and judge themselves very harshly. They are convinced other people can see their fear and worry even more. Those false beliefs are so real that the body reacts every time they have to meet people experiencing symptoms like:

  • heart racing
  • sweaty palms
  • blushing
  • fast heartbeat
  • trembling
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • muscle tension
  • jelly legs (even changing the way you walk while people are looking)
  • upset stomach, nausea or vomiting
  • hyperventilating
  • feeling that your mind has gone blank
  • passing out before the event 

The avoidance pattern

Of course, nobody wants to feel that way, so those with SAD will avoid social situations because of that anxiety. But the more they avoid the situation, the more the fear and beliefs are maintained and reinforced.

For example, I think I’m weird (justification for not interacting), which only discourages people from talking to me, and therefore reinforces the false belief. 

Avoided situations 

Typical social situations that involve interaction, observation, and performance; and may expose you to being judged, embarrassed, rejected, or humiliated are likely to be avoided. Some examples include:

  • starting conversations
  • going to school, shopping, or being seen in public
  • using public toilets, visiting shops, buying clothes
  • public performance including speaking to groups
  • attending parties or social gatherings
  • making phone calls to strangers
  • walking down the street
  • dating
  • speaking in front of co-workers
  • going to parties or social events
  • interacting with unfamiliar people or strangers
  • talking to authority figures, and having job interviews
  • making eye contact
  • entering a room in which people are already seated

Techniques to help 

Social anxiety disorder is treatable and there are tools available.

Cognitive restructuring CBT

Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most effective types of therapy for social anxiety disorder.

It addresses and challenges your distorted thoughts about your fears. CBT helps identify negative thoughts and beliefs, replacing them with more positive and realistic ones.

Exposure therapy

This focuses on desensitising someone to the fearful situation, by gradually exposing them to social situations that cause anxiety. Begin with smaller, less intimidating situations and work your way up.


Hypnosis helps to create new neural pathways in your brain, building the confidence and motivation to change your behaviour.

Breathing techniques and relaxation skills training

This helps to calm your mind and body, reduce the intensity of your anxiety symptoms, and change your body chemistry.

Remember, overcoming social anxiety takes persistence and patience. It's important to be kind to yourself throughout the process and celebrate small victories along the way.

The success of homosapiens and their survival over time is largely due to the ability to build groups, communicate and co-exist with each other. We are by nature a social species. Of course, if you prefer being alone, there’s nothing wrong with you at all, we all need our alone time -  but yes, belonging to a group is a core need of the psyche.

All the potential is within you, many achievements, all the positive impact that you can make in society - let them flourish, don’t let social anxiety stop you any longer. 

Please do email me today to learn more, I’m here to help!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Manchester M25 & M26
Written by Carolina Ramirez Valencia, Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist for Anxiety
Manchester M25 & M26

Hi, I'm Carolina, I made my mission to make therapy accessible to everyone, I offer tailored solutions for anxiety, worry, stress, and health management. Through an integrative research-lead approach, I accompany my clients in the journey to re-establish the balance in their mind and body. I enjoy s...

Show comments

Find a hypnotherapist dealing with Anxiety

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals