Infoline: 08444 775 774*

Mon-Fri 9:30am - 5.30pm

Text Service: 07537 416 905

Infoline: 08444 775 774*

Mon-Fri 9:30am - 5.30pm

Text Service: 07537 416 905


Social Phobia / Social Anxiety

social phobia

What is it?

Social or public situations of any kind may induce this disorder which is often expressed as a fear of being the centre of attention, or of others noticing the sufferer’s anxious behaviour.

Social phobia can also be classed as ‘specific social phobia,’ such as when there is social phobia only in specific  situations like public speaking. The fear of behaving in an embarrassing or humiliating way can lead to a complete withdrawal from social contact, as well as avoidance of specific social situations such as public toilets, eating out etc. The physical manifestations of this phobia include blushing, shaking and sweating etc.

Social Phobia/Social Anxiety fact sheet

DIY self diagnosis

If you can answer YES to most of the questions it is likely that you are affected by social phobia/social anxiety.

During the past 6 months:

  • Do you worry a lot about embarrassing yourself in front of others?
  • Do you worry about what people might think of you?
  • Do you feel anxious in social situations?
  • Do you worry about behaving anxiously in any of the following situations:-
    • Public speaking
    • Eating/drinking in front of other people
    • Writing in front of other people
    • Parties and other social gatherings
  • Do you avoid any of the above situations because they make you feel anxious?

Anxiety UK strongly advises that people seek further information and guidance from their GP who will be able to make a formal diagnosis.

How we can help

Anxiety UK is a user-led charity with more than forty years experience in supporting those living with anxiety. By becoming a member of Anxiety UK, you will have access to a range of benefits, including:

  • Access to reduced cost therapy within two weeks of submitting your therapy request
  • Free access to Headspace, worth £95
  • Access to our infoline, email, text and live chat services (available Monday-Friday, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm) staffed by volunteers with personal experience of anxiety
  • Receipt of four issues of Anxious Times, our quarterly members” magazine
  • Access to the members only section of our website, featuring regular support surgeries facilitated by anxiety experts
  • Access to specialist helplines, including the psychiatric pharmacy helpline

And many, many other benefits that will help you manage your anxiety long term. To become a member of Anxiety UK click here or ring 08444 775 774 today.

Want to know more?

The Anxiety UK site has information on a range of resources to provide more detailed information and help.

Anxiety UK Publications

  • Anxiety UK publishes a fact sheet and audio-tapes dealing with social phobia/social anxiety available from the Anxiety UK online shop
Recommended reading
overcoming social anxiety shyness

“Overcoming Social Anxiety” uses real-life examples and cognitive behavioural techniques. This book attempts to help the reader unlearn bad habits and replace them with healthy ones. It outlines the nature of shyness, the symptoms and possible causes and explains how to deal with upsetting thoughts, overcome avoidance and manage symptoms of anxiety through relaxation, distraction and panic management. You can purchase this book from the Anxiety UK online shop by clicking here.

Anxiety UK relies on donations to keep its services running. If you found this information useful please make a donation – no amount is too small.


Phobias Information Video

Personal experiences

Do you suffer from social phobia or social anxiety and want to share your experience with other people? Post your personal experience in the comments box below where it will be sent to our moderator for approval. Many people find this part of the site very useful when trying to understand their disorder so your comments really do make a difference. Please note, all comments submitted to the Anxiety UK website may be used by Anxiety UK for (but not limited to) publicity and promotional material.

If you would like to make contact with others who are living with similar experiences, you can do so via the Anxiety UK Pen-Pals scheme which is a service available to all Anxiety UK members (in both electronic and hard copy format).

I was 18 when my social phobia started.

I had recently ended a 3 year relationship with my boyfriend and suddenly felt very insecure. It was about the same time that I had a severe outbreak of acne. I am not sure if it was stress related but that was the trigger and from then on I became a completely different person, going from a confident, happy go lucky person to something completely the opposite. I began having very bad panic attacks, started blushing profusely, and I started shaking and getting excruciating headaches before having to go out somewhere. I found a way of coping which was to wear a thick layer of makeup – a mask to hide behind. I was terrified of people staring at me or noticing that I was blushing or sweating and it got to the point that I wouldn”t face these situations at all because they made me feel too ill. I am now 35 and “phobic free”. I am confident and happy with myself as I am now. I was phobic for 9 years but I had the strength to pull myself through and come out the other side. I learnt that changing my thoughts was the only way to overcoming my phobia and that I had to learn to accept myself and care less about what others thought of me. Healing is a gradual process, but slowly the panic attacks subsided and I began to enjoy the social events and not hide from them. I haven”t had a panic attack in over 8 years. I still blush but I have learnt that this is normal. I still get nervous in certain situations but this too is normal and it no longer has an effect on me. I wrote to Anxiety UK all those years ago to find Pen-Pals with similar conditions, and to this day, I still write to a lady who is also phobic free. We have been friends for 17 years in fact.


An experience of the Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy (ETS) procedure