Do social situations give you anxiety?

Do social situations give you anxiety?

This time of year might bring lots of chances to get together with friends and family, but you’re not alone if you dread those social situations.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling some anxiety, despite the cultural pressure you might feel to socialize around the holidays. And there are ways to cope.

“Social anxiety is a type of anxiety related specifically to situations involving social situations,” Dr. Munther Barakat, a psychologist for Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Wauwatosa, Wis., says. “It can be anxiety being in crowds or situations where the person feels pressure to socialize. People struggling with clinical anxiety have symptoms all year long. They may spike during holidays because of added pressure to socialize.”

The National Institutes of Health suggest about 7% of Americans are affected by social anxiety, and it might show itself in symptoms like sweating, a rapid heart rate and nausea, among other things.

“Having a friend that you can use as a support can be helpful,” Dr. Barakat says. “Sometimes the anxiety is related to pressure to perform so preparation can help. If you feel you have things to contribute to a discussion, it will improve confidence.”

If social anxiety isn’t just something that comes up for you at an occasional big party, it might be something you want to ask a doctor about.

“More than anything, working to put things in perspective is the most effective approach,” Dr. Barakat says. “Challenging negative thoughts about your capabilities and irrational fears about what may happen the foundation of therapy.”

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  1. Only 7% of Americans experience social anxiety? I’m not questioning the writer’s research abilities, but I suspect a type-o. Are you sure we’re not missing a digit there somewhere?

  2. The provided link verifies the statistic was correctly cited from CDC.

    I suspect a combination of things helps explain the “low” number:
    – under-reporting by those affected due to stigma, etc
    – the research is likely about clinical diagnosis, whereas many who experience it (and even admit to it) have never been given a formal diagnosis

  3. It may be also the type of gathering. For we introverts, if we know and relate well with the folk at the party, not a big deal. If it’s a room of folk with whom we don’t have a connection, it can be unnerving, particularly where there are clusters with subtle boundaries. Working a room then seems a lost cause. Why am I here?

  4. Larry, I too am an introvert and I totally agree with you.

About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.