Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is a common mental health issue that affects many Australians. While it’s normal to feel a little nervous in social situations, individuals with social anxiety disorder experience intense fear and anxiety that can be debilitating. In this blog, we will provide an overview of social anxiety disorder, address five frequently asked questions, and dispel three common misconceptions about the condition.

Overview of Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition characterised by an overwhelming fear of social situations. People with this disorder may feel extremely self-conscious and worry about being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated by others. As a result, they often avoid social interactions, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Social anxiety can manifest in various situations, such as public speaking, attending parties, meeting new people, or even everyday interactions like going to the store. If left untreated, social anxiety disorder can significantly impact an individual’s personal and professional life.

Frequently Asked Questions about Social Anxiety Disorder

In this section, we will address five frequently asked questions that many Australians have about social anxiety disorder. While social anxiety can be a challenging condition to navigate, understanding its symptoms, causes, and available treatments can shed light on how to effectively manage its impact on daily life. We aim to provide clear and concise answers to common inquiries, offering valuable insights into the nature of social anxiety disorder and empowering individuals to seek the necessary support for a more fulfilling life. Let’s delve into these frequently asked questions to gain a deeper understanding of this pervasive mental health issue.

  1. What are the common symptoms of social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder can manifest in physical symptoms like sweating, trembling, blushing, rapid heartbeat, and nausea. Emotional symptoms include extreme fear, feelings of inadequacy, and a strong desire to avoid social situations.

  1. What causes social anxiety disorder?Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition characterised by an overwhelming fear of social situations.

The exact cause of social anxiety disorder is not fully understood, but it is likely a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Traumatic social experiences or a family history of anxiety disorders may also play a role.

  1. How is social anxiety disorder diagnosed?

A mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, will conduct a thorough assessment to diagnose social anxiety disorder. The evaluation may involve discussions about symptoms, medical history, and any personal or family history of mental health issues.

  1. Can social anxiety disorder be treated?

Yes, social anxiety disorder is treatable. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and medication (such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications) are common treatment approaches that have proven to be effective in managing social anxiety.

  1. Are there self-help strategies for coping with social anxiety?

While seeking professional help is recommended, there are self-help strategies that can complement therapy. These include mindfulness practices, controlled breathing exercises, and gradually exposing oneself to anxiety-provoking situations.

Common Misconceptions of Social Anxiety Disorder

As with any mental health condition, social anxiety disorder can be subject to misconceptions and misunderstandings. In this section, we will address three common misconceptions about social anxiety disorder to clarify its nature and dispel any misconceived notions. By debunking these myths, we hope to foster a more informed and empathetic understanding of social anxiety disorder and encourage individuals to seek the appropriate help and support they may need. It’s essential to recognise that social anxiety disorder is a real and valid mental health concern that can significantly impact individuals’ lives, and challenging these misconceptions can help reduce stigma and facilitate more open conversations about mental health. Let’s explore and correct these misconceptions to foster a more supportive and inclusive society for those facing social anxiety disorder.

  1. Social anxiety is just shyness.

Shyness and social anxiety are not the same. Social anxiety disorder involves excessive and irrational fear, whereas shyness is a normal personality trait that doesn’t necessarily lead to significant impairment in daily life.

  1. People with social anxiety disorder are just introverted.

Although introversion and social anxiety can coexist, social anxiety is a mental health condition that goes beyond introversion. It involves intense fear and can lead to significant distress in social situations.

  1. Social anxiety is not a real disorder; people can simply “get over it.”

Social anxiety disorder is a legitimate mental health condition that requires professional treatment. Telling someone to “get over it” can be dismissive and harmful, as the condition often requires intervention and support.

Social anxiety disorder is a common mental health issue in Australia that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. Seeking professional help from Community Counselling and Care or other mental health providers can make a substantial difference in managing social anxiety disorder effectively.

If you or someone you know is struggling with social anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to seek help. Contact Community Counselling and Care for more information or to book an appointment. Remember, you don’t have to face social anxiety alone, and help is available to support you on your journey toward improved mental well-being.



  1. Clark, D. M., & Wells, A. (1995). A cognitive model of social phobia. In R. Heimberg, M. Liebowitz, D. A. Hope, & F. R. Schneier (Eds.), Social phobia: Diagnosis, assessment, and treatment (pp. 69-93). Guilford Press.
  2. Hofmann, S. G. (2007). Cognitive factors that maintain social anxiety disorder: A comprehensive model and its treatment implications. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, 36(4), 193-209.
  3. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2021). Social anxiety disorder (social phobia). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/social-anxiety-disorder-social-phobia/index.shtml