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Ask a Therapist: What is social anxiety?

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The core fear in social anxiety or excessive shyness is one of negative evaluation by others. Most people can relate to feeling discomfort when they are the centre of attention – for example, public speaking is notoriously one of the most common fears.

People who struggle with social anxiety experience this discomfort disproportionately. They are extremely shy or self-conscious and will avoid social or performative situations (or endure them with distress) for fear of being judged, embarrassed or humiliated. Examples of avoided situations can include public speaking, everyday social interactions, speaking with authority figures, or eating or writing in public. The net effect of the avoidance can be interference in the person’s ability to meet their role obligations (e.g., in their social life, relationships, work) or goals.

Social Anxiety Disorder is a diagnosis given to people who experience very high levels of social anxiety, to the point of high distress or impairment. Social Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorders, with lifetime prevalence rates in Canada ranging from 8 – 13%.

Care to learn more about social anxiety? We hosted a webinar with Kevin Frankish and our expert therapists here to answer all your questions:

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MindBeacon just launched a brand-new social anxiety program as part of our Therapist Guided Program. If you're ready to get started with therapy, visit us today

Every month, our Ask a Therapist series answers your most pressing questions about mental health. Have a question you'd like answered by our therapists? Send us an e-mail at community@mindbeacon.com. We'd love to hear from you!

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Stronger Minds content is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to establish a standard of care with a reader, you should always seek the advice of your mental health professional, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. If you think you may have a medical or mental health emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest hospital emergency department, or call emergency services immediately. You should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained herein. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information herein should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk.