What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety is an intense fear of one or more social situations. The fear is persistent and is usually around how a person thinks they will be evaluated by others.

A person with social anxiety fears that they will behave in a way that will lead to embarrassment, humiliation or negative evaluation by others.

The good news is that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, has been used for many years as an effective treatment for anxiety.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common symptom associated with a social anxiety. When a person with social anxiety has to be in a social situation or perform in some way in front of others, they will experience this almost every time.


Someone with social anxiety will have a lot of negative thoughts when in social situations. They might worry a lot about what others think of them and have thoughts like “I will make a fool of myself” or “They will think I’m an idiot”.


Avoidance of social situations is very common in social anxiety. Being in these situations can cause extreme discomfort, so it is natural that they will be avoided as much as possible

If a situation cannot be avoided entirely, e.g. a family birthday, a person with social anxiety may find that they do certain things to help reduce their anxiety within that situation. For example, they might not stay very long, they might drink more alcohol than they normally would, or they might stay very quiet and not speak to people.

Physical symptoms

When in a social situation or when thinking about a social interaction, a person with social anxiety might experience physical symptoms of anxiety. For example, feeling hot, shaking, sweating, palpitations or blushing.

The Cycle of Avoidance in Social Anxiety

It is understandable that a person who is experiencing this high anxiety in social situations would want to avoid them at all costs; however this might actually contribute to making the anxiety worse in the longer term.

Avoiding social situations might make us feel better in the short-term by providing relief that we don’t have to be scared or anxious, but in the long-term it reinforces the idea that the situation is scary and should be avoided.

It also reduces our confidence in being able to cope with future social situations.

This leads us to always avoid our feared situation and keeps the vicious cycle of avoidance going.

We have partnered with Silvercloud to offer you free access to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) self-help programme, designed by clinical experts using proven methods for helping people, all with the aim of empowering you to think and feel better.

This programme is based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

CBT consists of two key steps to feeling well:

  1. Understanding what’s going on inside you
  2. Making changes to feel better

The key idea behind CBT is that your emotions, thoughts, behaviours and physical sensations are connected, and affect each other.

Simply choose your programme on SilverCloud. When prompted to sign up, you will need an access code to enable you to create your account and use this resource. The access code is kwnelselfhelp

Skip to content