How is Social Anxiety Diagnosed and Treated?

How is Social Anxiety Diagnosed and Treated?

Social anxiety isn’t a new disorder, but it is one that people have become increasingly aware of over the last few decades owing to an increased number of people talking about the condition. In most instances, social anxiety begins during the teenage years, and without treatment, it may not go away as you get older and instead will continue to affect your adult life causing low self-esteem, isolation, and depression. For this reason, it’s important to get professional help so that it can be treated early on before it affects your long-term quality of life. 


How is social anxiety diagnosed?

Currently, there is no specific medical test that can be used to diagnose a social anxiety disorder. However, the diagnosis can be made by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional based on a combination of your symptoms and behaviors, how they and occur, and in what situations they arise. 


Many people confuse shyness with social anxiety. However, social anxiety is a much deeper and more impactful condition than shyness. Some of the symptoms that are most commonly associated with social anxiety include:


  • Worrying about everyday activities that many people take for granted, such as talking to someone on the phone, meeting strangers, shopping, visiting new places, or even working. 

  • Being particularly worried about participating in social activities, such as having a meal with someone, attending a conference or meeting, eating with other people, or going to a party. 

  • Having heightened self-awareness, and persistently worrying that you might be doing something embarrassing, like blushing, sweating, showing underwear, or appearing like you don’t understand what’s going on.

  • Finding it hard to complete normal activities when other people are watching you, such as parking a car or packing a bag, because you subconsciously feel as though you are being judged.

  • Having low self-esteem.

  • Fearing criticism. 

  • Avoiding eye contact with other people, particularly those you don’t know well. 

  • Experiencing anxiety symptoms like nausea, sweating, shaking, or palpitations. 

  • Suffering from panic attacks. 


It probably won’t surprise you to learn that many people with social anxiety also suffer from co-morbid mental health conditions such as depression or panic disorder. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to ease or overcome your social anxiety and prevent it from affecting your quality of life.

Treatment for social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder is typically treated using a combination of behavioral therapy and medication, although in many cases, therapy alone may be sufficient to help the sufferer overcome their symptoms and improve their quality of life. 


Cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT for short, is a very effective and popular therapy that focuses on identifying irrational beliefs and thought patterns and replacing them with more realistic views. In the case of social anxiety, CBT sessions will work on things like:


  • Misperceptions you have about your abilities and self-worth

  • Any guilt, embarrassment, or anger you have over past situations could be affecting how you feel about future ones

  • Tackling perfectionism and being more realistic

  • Dealing with procrastination related to social anxiety

  • Misperceptions you have about others judging you


Every person is different and so the exact shape of your therapy sessions and the number you will need will vary according to your unique needs. 



If you would like to talk to us about social anxiety and how our compassionate and understanding therapy team can help, visit Stronger Together in San Diego, CA. Call (858) 434-8100. to. schedule an appointment.

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