People with social phobia are often hypercritical of themselves
According to Dr Matthews, social phobia sufferers can set unrealistically high expectations on their appearance, behaviour or performance, and become obsessed with minor details. “If they perceive anything as even slightly wrong, they may blow it out of proportion,” he says. “For example, if a person has a pimple or spills a small amount of coffee on himself, he may be overly conscious of his appearance, or if he trips on the carpet or drops his papers prior to a presentation, his anxiety may go sky high, thus impacting performance.”
Social phobia steals opportunity
Dr Matthews says that fear of judgment or rejection interferes with meeting new friends or going on dates – and the fear can also cause them to drift apart from existing friends. “Individuals may even limit themselves in terms of school or career, opting for online college or commuting locally instead of going away to college or taking a lower-paying job or declining a promotion in order to avoid having to deal with people,” he says.
They may be subtle, but these hidden signs may indicate you have a mood disorder.
You can’t talk someone out of social anxiety
If you’re not suffering from the phobia yourself, it can be difficult to understand what it’s like and why someone can’t seem to ‘shake it off’. But logic doesn’t play a role in this condition: “If someone has social phobia, their anxiety consists of physical symptoms, fears, negative thoughts and a constellation of things that can often require cognitive therapy and medication,” says Dr Sherman. “Although you would love to help, it’s unrealistic to think you can cheerlead or talk someone out of this and it puts undue pressure and unrealistic expectations on that person.”