Social Anxiety Disorder – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Say it’s your first day at a new job. Maybe you’re nervous or jittery. You want to make a good impression. Those feelings are pretty normal, and may
actually help you be more alert and careful. But after a few weeks, once you’re used
to the job, and you know your coworkers, that nervousness usually diminishes, right? Well, for some people that initial anxiety
is really high, and stays really high over time. For those people, the fear of being judged
negatively by new people might be so daunting that it affects their ability to do their
job well. In fact, even the idea of having to be somewhere
where they may be scrutinized by others might make them not want the job in the first place. This describes social anxiety disorder. It’s unclear what causes social anxiety
disorder, but it’s thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, like
having a close relative with social anxiety disorder or being exposed to neglect or abuse. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders, or DSM-5, defines social anxiety disorder as causing individuals to fear acting
in a certain way that might make them get judged, and it can cause anxiety that interferes
with their normal routine as well as their relationships. What’s more, is that the fear or anxiety
is persistent, lasting for 6 or more months. Usually social anxiety disorder causes distress
for individuals in specific social situations or circumstances. For example, one person might get really anxious
while making small talk with acquaintances, or meeting new people. Whereas another person might get performance
anxiety, and not feel able to give a presentation, or give a toast at a friend’s wedding. Social anxiety disorder is an egodystonic
condition, meaning people who have the disorder usually understand that their anxiety is unwarranted. But, unfortunately, that awareness can cause
more anxiety, because they’ll fear others can tell how anxious they are. Sometimes individuals might worry that they
may be having physical symptoms like trembling or blushing that others might notice and judge
them for. Sometimes the anxiety can get so severe that
it causes something called derealization, meaning that a person might feel “spaced
out” and be less able to recognize their surroundings. In order to reduce their social inhibitions,
some people with social anxiety use drugs and alcohol, and that can lead to dependency
and addiction. The DSM-5 states that in order to make a diagnosis
of social anxiety disorder, the fear or avoidance shouldn’t be due to the effects of a medication
or due to another condition. That’s important because there are key features
of social anxiety disorder that overlap with other conditions. For example, in generalized anxiety disorder
individuals have anxiety, but it’s not limited to being judged in a social context. The anxiety is usually broader, and includes
non-social concerns, like finances or physical safety. Another example is agoraphobia where people
avoid public places, for fear of being trapped and not being able to escape, just in case
something embarrassing happens or they begin to panic. But in agoraphobia the fear is less about
being judged and more about being trapped in a crowd and not being able to escape. Treatment usually involves psychotherapy,
medication, or a combination of the two. If it’s psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral
therapy is recommended, since it teaches a person new ways of thinking and behaviors
to help in being around others. Antidepressants are the most common choice
of medication, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, serotonin-norepinephrine
reuptake inhibitors or SNRIs, as well as benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers. SSRI’s help regulate serotonin levels in
the brain, while SNRIs help regulate serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, to manage anxiety. Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that
have a relaxing effect. Beta blockers can help ease the physical symptoms
of performance anxiety. Though medication can be effective in the
short term, cognitive behavioral therapy has more advantages in the long term, due to the
potential of unwanted side effects. All right, so as a quick recap, people with
social anxiety disorder have heightened anxiety about acting in a way, or showing symptoms
of anxiety, that will be negatively scrutinized by others. Anxiety that is restricted only to performance
is a specific type of social anxiety. The anxiety is almost always present in the
particular social situation and is severe enough that it interferes with the normal
course of life.

100 comments

  1. living with social anxiety is living hell. it drains the soul out of me. i cannot even put into words how many opportunities and friendships it costed me. i can't even walk normally with my head up, can't bring myself to look anyone in the eye. i break down every single time i have to give a presentation in uni. it is ruining my life. every single day i dread going outside and i tremble so much even at the slightest thing. i can only be myself when i'm all alone in my room. want to try therapy but it's way too expensive for a college student like me. i feel so trapped and alone and helpless

  2. Is it ok to have social anxiety when your young like I’m 15 and I don’t now anything about this disorder and nobody knows about my disorder and it’s completely running my life I don’t tell anyone because there not gonna believe me because they don’t believe in these things ps my parents are Muslim!!!

  3. Life fucking sucks, it's simple.
    If you don't have social anxiety, you're having some other disorder.
    Someone explain to me, how HELL can be worse than this place.
    We have narcassism, necrofilia, sadism, ego the list goes on.
    Such a disgusting race and world to be apart of.
    Life does not feel like a present to me, it feels like a punishment.

  4. If I’m scared to ask for something or feel judged everywhere and when I try to talk to someone new or do something social my heart starts beating fast and I feel sick and I’m sweating and can’t make words out right or stutter does that count as social anxiety?

  5. i've high social anxiety, like if i'm outside by myself i literally get panic attacks and it can be pretty bad and people around me, even people i used to consider as my close friends, were telling me that i'm just lazy that i don't wanna work that everyone has a bit of anxiety but they never took the time to understand that it's a real disorder and i'm not just being lazy. it hurts to not be able to do simple things but it also hurt when your friends think so low of you and makes you feel like shit. i had this friend also who knew i was in literal panic when i had to meet people and it wasn't plan and she would, deliberately, invite people that i don't know everytime and say stuff about herself like " you know, me i'm pretty outgoing, people love me" etc… i had to change friends

  6. I think I have this, I can relate to most of what this is saying, and sometimes when I’m talking to people I know I cannot keep eye contact, and I either hardly blink, blink allot, or try to copy there blinking patterns, and I mess around with my face, hair, hands allot, idk… I came here to see if it would help, and started commenting half way through, to avoid social situations I usually put headphones on and listen to music, as without them I feel like everyone around me, is staring at me, judging me, etc. Sometimes I feel like I’m blushing allot when talking to people, sometimes I stutter uncontrollably, I’m also very fidgety… idk, I’ve been like this since my head got messed with and someone I trusted, was controlling and manipulating me the whole time…

  7. I’ve always felt like I have SAD but then I hear other ppls stories and I feel almost selfish because I don’t have panic attacks.

    I freak out at the thought of talking to someone especially strangers , my immediate thought is that there going to look at me and think wow what a weirdo .I think about first impressions and that how in the first 30s of talking to someone they then make a judgement of what kind of person you are so it’s just easier to hide away .
    Every stranger I see I immediately see them as hostile and try to move away , I think this may be linked to being bullied all through school .
    The strange thing is I’ve fought so hard to avoid being around people I’ve found that the safest thing for me is to stay inside and shut the curtains , this makes me feel safe and now part of me doesn’t want to get help because I’ve found away to cope and I’m scared to get help .
    Is this social anxiety disorder ?

  8. I can't even walk on streets. It feels like everyone watches me, looks at my face, and scrutinizes me. Whenever i go somewhere crowded, i feel almost always anxious. It's so painful.

  9. I think I have social anxiety because I am scared to go into public and panic attacks all the time I'm just to scared to tell my mum. I need help

  10. 6 months more like fucking years and some social situation more like all social situations for years I try to control it try to expose myself to my fear bit I just hurt myself like that and I'm not gona lie I want and like social interactions connections to people but it kills me to do so and its so hard year after year and then put in family problems and depression and I have been thinking of ending it all past days but don't want to do that to my family and I'm stuck in a place where I don't want to live but don't want to hurt my family I indulge in quick dopamine pumping actions video games weed alcohol porn but its just not it and if I could have chosen I. would have never been born

  11. I’m 20 yrs old dealing with this sh*t I literally quit my job and dropped out of college because of it😤 I don’t even go outside.I constantly tell myself that no one is judging I try my hardest to think positively but it doesn’t work.I’m getting help now and I hope everything works out because living in constant fear is not living at all. Wish me luck and good luck to all of you that are dealing with Social anxiety, social phobia, etc.

  12. having the mindset of not giving a shit what people think about me has helped me. Sadly this is not a solution as sometimes must give a shit. For example job interviews or meeting people in a new city…

  13. I have social anxiety but nobody would know I actually have it as I'm able to soothe it down very easily. It doesn't happen whenever I'm out,it usually happens when I'm somewhere I don't want to be,like if I'm forced to be there.Also I really don't care about people though,I'm just having this feeling because I need to interact with people I don't want to while I love being alone. It makes me act awkward so I'm having this feeling. Crowd and loud noices are making me sick. I feel uncomfortable. Even though I can maintain my calmness,the feeling inside is horrible and I don't know how to make it stop. It's making my mind so numb,

  14. Social Anxiety is eating me alive, I don't know how to do interactions anymore. I just avoid people, fear of being judge. If I keep this up, my future will have isolation and just a dark, empty room. Even if I try to get help feels like I'm doing this for attention or what if I'm just overreacting? Just thinking about all of this I want to bash my head on the wall. So basically what I do in my life, I just over think ever action I've done and just keep asking question like that.

    Woah, you just read the whole thing?
    Good job of wasting your time m8

  15. I have anxiety like fr fr.. I jus live with it.. my life sux everyday.. I'm the weirdest ugliest person I know 😭

  16. I was verbally abused by my stepfather when i was little. It went and for 2 years- i wanted to kill myself at the age of 9. Ever since then, ive been scared to do certain things, like pay for shopping, or ask for something at a resturaunt. My mum always asks me why i do it, and when i say i'm scared, she just laughs at me. She also shouts at me for staying in my room all the time, and its because i prefer being alone. I know it sounds a bit weird, but even though i like being alone, sometimes im really lonely. When i was abused, i started behaving badly so i lost all my friends. And THEN i started being afraid of people, so it was EXTREMELY hard to make friends. I'm better now, but i always feel like people are judging me when i walk past.

  17. I can't even go to the shops without feeling like I'm going to be physically sick or literally about to have a panic or heart attack, especially whenever there's a massive crowd in a market and my mum and brother make me walk through it…

    my family don't listen to me

  18. It's weird I can get along with social circles, I'm more anxious when I have to go to places , like festivals or concerts. Could be because I might have no control of my surroundings.But at the same time, life is supposed to be unpredictable . Honestly I'm more annoyed by my anxiety

  19. Your stomach might just be upset. I have UC. Also you're potentially too self conscious of things you shouldn't be so stop worrying about those things and view your anxiety as a collection of symptoms to be treated with food, water, climate conditioning, movement (exercise as something you desire as opposed to pacing), and actually go to a regular medical doctor and find out if you have a digestive problem, because it will actually cause that.

    If it feels strange to call the things that bother you unethical than you should probably stop worrying about them. Aim for good health, hygiene, and allow yourself to have excuses for things not going that well, because life's hard. Everybody is kind of awkward and clumsy sometimes. People look like they're made of clay, and we have a lot in common with primates. Most people can't even judge you with a straight face most of the time unless they have some other underlying motivation.

    Also compare yourself to those around you. You'll relax almost immediately. Don't let anybody stop you from doing it you'll become resentful later at your misconceptions.

  20. I have social anxiety at the age of 12 it's the worst ever I've started school and the third day I had a swollen eye so I asked the teacher that I had a head ache so she mumbled oh maybe we should call your parents then . I got super nervous again and I spaced out and walked to the door of the class room and she recognized I was going out of the class room and said are u sure it's that serious that u need to go home for it? and I stupidly responded Im not sure and walked out of the class room ?? For some reason as i was walking down the hallway in confusion i clicked back and I just remembered what I just did. I began to panic so obviously I went and told the teacher could I go home she said my mum was on her way. So I went back to class with my heart beating fast. I felt like everyone had there eyes on me including the teacher. I was almost trembling for some reason and couldn't think straight I felt like I wanted to break down and cry but I was keeping it all in before I went home and then later I started to cry a bit. I think medication is not for me though I never told my parents yet.

  21. Whenever I’m in a conversation, I want to add in my opinion, but when I do, I feel like people think I just want attention.

  22. I didn’t even think I had this until I made my mom wait in the car with me for almost an hour for my friends to show up to party hosted by classmates as a grad party. Literally people that I knew were there

  23. is overthinking , shyness ,scared to be judged, avoid public outings like going to church school weddings and thinking low of myself considered as social anxiety
    And also not able to concentrate on studies and not able to engage in social activities
    Pls can someone help me pls

  24. I can't go out of my room anymore. I can't have a good conversation with my parents anymore.. Or anyone. I never leave the house. I'm trembling as I'm writing this. The thought of anyone knowing about it makes me tremble. Like, I can't even make a sandwich unless no ones in the kitchen or living room, which means I only go out of my room at night. I hate myself because of it. It's the worst.I feel so trapped..

  25. My story… My English is weak sorry

    I was in 5th grade. One of my closest friends went to England. Sometimes we had small talks throughout Facebook. In 6th grade I have argued with my 2nd friend about little thing. I don't even remember about what it was… Friends of her turned their back from me. The friend from England too… In 7th and 8th grade I started to isolate from others. Time between lessons (rest time or something I don't remember) I stayed alone for 15 minutes each pretending to watch something on phone. When someone wanted to talk to me I just stayed quiet or "yes" "mhm". Inside I felt fear, judgment, eyes of people, laughs about how I look, how I am dressed ( It was of course untrue) On classes I only talked to teachers or boys from my grade. I started crying on my bed once a month or a few times. Summer was lonely I stayed home I deleted Facebook cuz I didn't even have courage to start conversation with someone. Now it's 3rd day of high school is worse. New people, more people… Everyone has friends, they chat with each other. Then there is me behind them near wall just wait for bell to follow them to find classroom. When we are in I sit alone, when someone sits next to me I get all shy stressful. For the whole lesson I don't speak to them I am afraid that they will laugh a me or will ignore me. These 3 days after school I seek in my bed crying for half hour not telling anyone what's wrong… even today 15mins earlier. Now it's better I just write how I feel it's the only way that gets me feel better…

  26. I have no friends in my class at school. They are all in the other class. I will have no one to sit beside and when we have to choose partner, I won’t be able to choose anyone and I’ll be alone. I’m too scared to go to school(I skipped today) and Ik I’ll have no one. I want to go but I don’t because I don’t want to be known as the girl who’s all alone and she never has a partner for anything.😢 I’m introverted and shy but I’ve never felt like this because I’ve always been in a class with my friends. Please someone help me❤️

  27. Idk if I have this but I’ve been 12 days without going out of home cause I’m not brave enough to ask my “friends” out and I always wait for them to ask me and as they don’t I think they don’t want to hang out with me

  28. my friend likes to hang out with a lot of people and I then stand like I don't know what to do or say and stand like a crazy person

  29. middle school. high school. even any school was torture. in middle school all my friends made new friends. before the first day i remember we all were talking and saying “i’m going to have no friends.” maybe they were joking. i was not.. i had no friends. i cried every day. i vividly remember in english i was thinking about how i had no friends. my face turned bright red as i was about to cry, my friend commented, “why is ur face so red haha” and i sollowed my tears and laughed it off

  30. I get preformance anxiety, I think I also have social anxiety because I get really nervous when I have to talk or meet new people and I bug my close friends to come with me

  31. Im 20, I have a part time job but im always scared to go, just riding the bus to work makes me so scared that I might make a mistake and make problems with people at work.

    I just want to stay home because I feel more safer

    Im so disappointed to myself from having this I think it started when I was in elementary just talking to others makes me think that I will embarrase them.

    I hope that I overcome this one day, its just so hard to deal with this everyday…

  32. my social anxiety is so bad that I'm studying on how to take the city transit bus right now. I have to catch the bus in the morning and I am so scared!

  33. the worst thing is that people don't take you seriously. i wish i could get help so bad but i'm broke and looking for a job is scary as f… and my parents don't understand. when i ask how crowded a place we have to go to is my mum always says "no one is looking at you" i rationally know that but my mind says otherwise.

  34. Ok so I’ve done a lot of research and I’m here to let you know that if this video speaks to you, more times than not, you have social anxiety disorder. It is living hell because of the constant feeling that people are judging you and not being able to take a worry free breath in public without feeling eyes, even when there aren’t. I hope that everybody with this disorder is able to fight through it and become less anxious. Ily💜💜💜💜

  35. I hate my social anxiety it makes very simple task around people a mission even though it’s not and constantly makes me hate public spaces

  36. I thought I had social anxiety because I'm always terrified of what people think of me. But this is worse than what I thought it was. I feel so bad for the people who have this.

  37. That derealisation thing I swear to God has happened to me so much. It stresses me out more because I feel like I will make some actions I don't normally do and I just want to get the fuck out of there.

  38. Just last year I was able to Fool around and make people laugh in a stageplay watched by the whole school, and then suddenly I became this guy who avoids everyone and is even too shy to recite in class

  39. Lately I've been fighting against my social anxiety , and it's starting to pay off.I believe that one day , I'll be able to live my life normally , like a normal , happy girl.
    It's been a hard journey so far but I know it's gonna be worth it

  40. I’m trying to overcome this on my own but it’s just so difficult plus the improvement I see is minimal and it’s getting really frustrating. I am always that quit student in the back of the class who never talks and people always wonder why but it’s not that I can do anything about it since I just can’t go up to someone and talk about this, even to my closest friends with the fear of being judged or made fun of.

  41. I just hate when people who are opened and extroverted say things like "Why are you so quite?" or "If you don't like it, then just stop complaining and start talking." … Not only that I hate when people say it, but I also don't understand why they say something like that? I mean, what they say is so obvious. And you think I haven't tried it yet? And you've obviously never been in my skin, how can you possibly understand? Social anxiety has been with me for a few years now and it's only getting worse. I don't have any friends, no one to rely on. I don't trust anybody enough to share my problems. Not even the closest family members. I feel awkward. Weird. Uncomfortable. I've been seeking help on the internet, but there's nothing I could possibly afford. Besides, I don't even think it's going to help me. I'd like to feel happy again, but it's not so easy to forget or ignore how rude, stupid and bold people can be.

    If you're like me just know that you're not alone… And I'm sure this will end one day.

  42. The worst is when you’re at school and you are basically forced to be social and don’t get me started on class presentations

  43. When i was young i was heavily bullied at school. To make things worse i have a depressed dad who always criticized me. Since about high school i had social anxiety, it has ruined my life. But now i know the cause and i will.. no i must fix it. I hope myself good luck and to any of you trying to fix your anxiety, good luck to u too

  44. i’m thinking i might have it because i always get really anxious at school and with people i don’t know because i’m scared they’ll think i’m weird or i won’t have anything interesting to say. Even when i have to say yes in the register i’m scared to speak because i feel like everyone is listening to my voice and will think…well idk what i think they’ll think! it’s so frustrating and even when i am with my best friend i think she is judging me, or when i’m walking down the street i worry about people looking at me from their cars and judging me. it especially doesn’t help with the fact i don’t really have that many friends either but when i am with my family i am 100% normal and me. It’s so horrible because it stops me from getting up in class to get a sheet or to ask for something from the teacher, and i try to be confident and not think about people judging me but i just can’t idk what’s wrong with me!! 🙁

  45. I've a big forehead n i'm always embarrassed about it when i'm around people. I am not shy to talk with people first but as our conversation goes i couldnt make eye contact with them n who knows they might even think i'm rude. When i am doing something if someone watch me then i get nervous and mess it up. I started to shake while writing or even typing msgs if someone watches me n sometimes they ask me why i am shaking… my tone changes when i am speaking infront of people; i fear of offending someone before i talk, always worry about what if i become a burden for someelse someday. I always fear of getting judge so i hate judgemental people. I am so sensitive and emtional even for silly things…. I want to be alone most of the time but not all the time; sometimes depressed, googling about celebs who committed suicide and the list goes on!! Its ruining my life… i want HELP somebody plz cos there is no doctors here to treat this condition!!! Plz help me i beg u… i am a guy and i know most of the men are brave but i'm not

  46. I don't know if this is social anxiety or not because I don't want to diagnose myself. I'm a uni student but it's unbearable to go to class because people will be there. Just thinking about it makes me want to skip classes and not wanting to go to college at all

  47. Comes to a point we're you only feel comfortable around close friends because making new friends on your own is impossible

  48. I have the disorder and it's terrible… I can't even eat in public! It makes me think that I'm doing something strange and people is judging me…

  49. Best way I can describe my anxiety is it feels like everyone is staring at you judging you constantly and constantly think what can go wrong and you never really give yourself a break and constant nightmares I usually try to calm down drink some water tea coffee maybe play video games or something similar drawing also helps but not all the time it's hard for me to meet new people give my opinion or just say no without thinking what will go wrong.

  50. I’m 16 and I know I have social anxiety. I don’t know how to explain it to my mom because I know she won’t understand what I’m going through, there’s been times where I don’t go out for months. I just stay home and avoid social situations, when my siblings and my mom notice I don’t go out they always say why do I care what people say or why don’t I go out. Like seriously it’s not me I have mental problems that I don’t even know how to explain it at all. So basically I’m still dealing with it but I know this may seem bad but I never talk to anyone about my feelings or what’s going on. Like my family always just tell me to get over it don’t care what people think, so that’s why I’m dealing with this myself. I am the oldest of three kids and my other two young brother and sister don’t have the same issue. I never experience traumatic situations when I was younger, I just never know why I feel this why or why am I like this. If anyone has the same situation as me just know your not alone 🙁

  51. In school and on the streets i get alot of social anxiety but not so much that i cry but i get rlly nervous and when im doing something like art or literature i get so nervous. But what ive realised is that im very good at coming last at alot of things. I take it as a joke whereas my classmates would not take it. So thats helped a bit wth my anxiety.

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  53. Just my rant.
    Don't know if I have this condition or not but I get way too scared and anxious while meeting new people. From an Indian context, it is so hard for one to be escaped from being judged. For example, relatives are visiting the home tomorrow and I'm already anxious despite knowing that they themselves won't remember their "judgements" the next time they visit. But still the anxiety exists. The reasons for such anxiety, I believe, are my parents(who could've socialised me better without themselves judging me) and of course myself. A part of me knows that I'm not good enough(I'm fat, ugly, awkward, have very few skills). I don't even have the courage to avoid people. I am just fuckin useless. I wish I wasn't born at all. But I will never take "that big step". Because that requires courage too. End.

  54. why the hell do I have this .
    All was well until I turned 16 , then I just started worrying that everyone around me was judging me and I've been depressed ever since
    It just gets worse and worse

  55. The other day I had to go to a birthday party but my friends didn't come. There where kids my age but they were sitting at another table and I was too shy to ask if I could sit with them, because there were people I didn't know.
    I was incredibly anxious and I couldn't wait to go home. I almost started crying and my hand was shaking so badly. I always knew I was shy but never thought about social anxiety before.
    Now I know it's worse than I thought but i somewhat feel relived once diagnosed, because I know it's not me, it's the chemicals in my brain. No one's judging me as harshly as I think they do, I'm just highly insecure

  56. Your Creator offers you peace and freedom from it,He says come to me all you who are burden and I will give you rest,for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Accept Jesus Christ into your life and He will free you from this,He created you,He knows you accept Him and He will free you.Pray this prayer Lord Jesus come into my heart and wash me with Your Precious Blood and save my soul today,take away my heavy burden and give me Your Peace,am tired of living like this I need Your intervention in my life In Jesus Name, I thank You Lord that everyone who calls on Your Name Jesus shall be saved Amen Thank You Lord for being faithful to Your Word In Jesus Name Amen.

  57. 3 days ago i had to give a short presentation for a class.I had put off working on the presentation until last minute because i usually dont even do them which has hurt my grades in the past. I never did them because one time i cried in front of everybody and i never wanted to do them again. And i was doing semi fine at first, just a little voice shakyness and blushing. But then i heard people laughing and whispering and saying things like "is she okay?" "She looks like shes about to cry" "omg i feel bad for her". And just couldnt stop shaking and i felt like i was about to fall because my knees started wobbling and i couldnt stop moving. I stopped half way through because my voice was stuttering and shaking really bad. I was so embarrassed. The teacher asked me if i was ok and that i could go out side of the classroom if id like. I went to the bathroom and i didnt want come back to class because i didnt want anyone to see me and i just embarrased my self in front of everyone. I feel like i made a whole scene out of it and im afraid to go back to that class tomorrow because people are going to look at me weird and judge me for not even being able to do a short presentation. The exact thing i was fearing happened. And im even shaking as im writing this. I wish i wasnt like this i wish i could just be a normal person.

  58. I think I have this disorder I can’t even tell my mom, I want to but I don’t think I’m going to be able to bc I’m afraid she’ll say that I’m over reacting. can anyone help me ? Please

  59. I want to share my story and how I overcame social anxiety. Hopefully someone will find this helpful. I started to suffer from social anxiety when I was 15 years old, but it didn't restrict my life back then. I was nervous about a lot of things but still able to function normally in social situations. When I was 16, it got worse. I didn't tell anybody that I had anxiety. When I was 17, it got so bad that most of the time I wasn't able to leave my apartment.

    One day I broke down at school. My teacher helped me to contact a school nurse, and she got me into therapy. It did now work. I actually criticize therapy, because it only focuses on the symptoms – it completely bypasses the causes of ones social anxiety (at least in my country this is the case). My therapist only spoke about breathing techniques and exposure to situations I found difficult. When I wasn't getting any better, I was instructed to take SSRIs. I never started to take them, because they too, like the therapy I received, only treat the symptoms, not the causes. I also disliked the idea of SSRIs, as I didn't want any weird stuff in my brain when it don't belong there in the first place.

    I was frustrated, scared and broken. I was sure my social anxiety was incurable. I just wanted to die, because the pain was too much to handle. I quit therapy, I quit school and moved to another city. I began to ask myself lots of different questions: why am I scared of people judging me? Why am I sure that every time people laugh, they're laughing at me? Why do I care about people's opinions so much? Why am I scared of others? Why do I get panic attacks during social situations? I knew the only way to answer those questions was to dig into my past. That's what I did.

    I have a troubled childhood that includes bullying, abuse, illnesses and a lot of fear. I kept everything to myself when I was a kid. I bottled up everything without processing it. I just always pushed forward, no matter what. It obviously backfired me, in the form of social anxiety. I had decided to understand the reasons behind my anxiety, so I began to sort out everything that had happened during my childhood. The process was terrible. The memories were scary, I had nightmares about my past almost every night and I felt extremely depressed. It took me about three months, but it was worth it. Afterwards I felt relieved and I had a lot more understanding about my behaviour. I understood that my body tried to prevent me from going to those situations, where I had been hurt before.

    The next step was regain my self esteem and confidence. I started with meditation and positive thinking. I told myself that I am allowed to be anxious. It's okay, if I do something "awkward". It's not the end of the world, and the most important thing is that I tried. I told myself that there's nothing wrong with me. When I had reached the right mindset, I began to practice social situations. It amazed me that all of my physical symptoms had disappeared. No more shaking hands or increased heart rate. I was still nervous, but it didn't bother me anymore. I started from easy things, like walking down the street with my head held high, instead of looking at my feet. Sometimes the anxiety came back and tried to stop me, but I refused to listen to its lies. I still push myself to achieve even greater things. Next year I'm going to another country to work there. I will have to travel alone, use a foreign language (which is English) and I will have to leave everything familiar behind – and I'm just 19 years old. Still, I'm not scared, I'm happy and excited.

    Few years back I would've not believed that one day I would be able to overcome social anxiety. Nevertheless, I did it. I'm so proud of myself. I never gave up. I wanted to fight that monster, called social anxiety, and I won. I believe that all of you who still suffer from this horrible illness, you can win that battle, just like I did. You have to find the origins of your fears and anxiety. Because when you find them, you will understand your anxiety. I'm sending much love to all of you. Stay strong.

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