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Everyone has felt shy from time to time, especially in high pressure situations, like a job interview or a first date.  But people with true social anxiety have an extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations. Social anxiety can wreak havoc on the lives of those who suffer from it.  Symptoms may be so extreme that they disrupt daily life. People with social anxiety, also called social phobia, may have few or no social or romantic relationships, making them feel powerless, alone, or even ashamed.

  • About 15 million American adults have social anxiety disorder

  • Typical age of onset: 13 years old

  • 36 percent of people with social anxiety disorder report symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help

Although they recognize that the fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder feel powerless against their anxiety. They are terrified they will humiliate or embarrass themselves.  The anxiety can interfere significantly with daily routines, occupational performance, or social life, making it difficult to complete school, interview and get a job, and have friendships and romantic relationships.

"Honestly, I felt like a freak because I got so nervous talking to people I didn't know very well.  I got passed over for a promotion because my boss wanted someone with 'better communication skills.'  But after the conversations we've had, I feel more confident to say what I need to say.  I'll never be a social butterfly—that's just not me—but I don't worry so much anymore about what people think."
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