A Therapist Shared 5 Warning Signs You Might Have Social Anxiety

Photo credit: Dmitry Ageev / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Dmitry Ageev / EyeEm - Getty Images

Social anxiety is categorized as a fear or anxiety of situations where you might be exposed to scrutiny by other people or where you might behave in a way that will cause people to think negatively towards you, causing you to avoid or limit your involvement in these situations. This can apply to all kinds of different scenarios, from speaking in public to simply meeting new people.

In a recent video on her YouTube channel, licensed family therapist Kati Morton breaks down five of the telltale signs that you might be struggling with social anxiety in your own life.

You're extremely self-conscious

"Since a lot of social anxiety stems from our fear that we will do something embarrassing or someone won't like us, we can become acutely aware of everything we do and say, not to mention how we look," says Morton. This often results in trying to plan out situations ahead of time and rehearsing conversations, or trying to mimic other people's behavior in order to pass under the radar. The more we do this, however, the less present we tend to be in our social interactions, and Morton warns that it can start to negatively affect our work and our relationships.

You fear and avoid social situations

It's perfectly natural to feel nervous when meeting new people for the first time, or to get a little bit of performance anxiety before giving a speech. But when you have social anxiety, even short, casual interactions like meeting a friend for coffee or asking a coworker for help can become very difficult.

You replay interactions over and over again

The need to go over encounters repeatedly in your head is a huge sign of social anxiety, says Morton, and she has experience with clients where this compulsion has made it difficult for them to sleep.

You have random digestive issues

After ruling out any possible medical causes for nausea or diarrhea, this could be linked to anxiety. "When we're stressed, our body releases hormones and neurotransmitters that can negatively affect the balance of bacteria in our gut, and the way our intestines move waste through our digestive tract," says Morton. "This can cause bloating, gas, nausea, diarrhea and many other digestive issues."

You sweat a lot

We usually sweat as a biological response to external heat: releasing water and salt from our eccrine glands is the body's way of cooling itself down during exercise or while outside in the sun. But stress sweat, which comes from the apocrine glands and consists of fatty acids and proteins, is a reaction to what happens when we get worried, embarrassed or ashamed, and the face, neck, and back begin to get hot.

"If we're anxious or overwhelmed most of the time, we can find ourselves sweating constantly, and struggle to get it to stop," says Morton.

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