Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Social Anxiety

social_anxiety.mp3 Listen to the Podcast about Social Anxiety


Also known as Social Phobia, a person who experiences this sort of anxiety has excessive worry about how they come across to others. Whilst all of us have varying degrees of social anxiety, from going for an interview to chatting in a group, the characteristics of social phobia are:

  • Persistent fear of social or performance situations. Individual fears he/she will act in a way which will be humiliating or embarrassing.
  • Exposure to above situations almost always provokes anxiety.
  • Fear is recognised as excessive or unreasonable
  • Feared situations are avoided or endured with intense distress

Recognising Social Phobia

Many people who have social phobia have thought of themselves as very shy or have been viewed by others as simply being shy. Most sufferers do not seek therapy and those who do may present with generalised anxiety, panic attacks or depression. Key characteristics associated with social phobia are avoidance and developing ways to feel psychologically safe, or safety behaviours.

Overcoming Social Anxiety or Phobia

This condition usually starts in childhood or early adulthood. It may be linked with a specific event or it might be that people who were shy as children never outgrew it. Increased self knowledge through counselling may help a person shift away from the excessive self-focused attention that maintains social phobia. For some people, CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), works well to help a person face social situations in order to disconfirm the negative assumptions they make about others.

Getting support:

The Wellbeing Support Services is available for students at the University of Warwick:

Samaritans:Tel 08457 909090

Medical support and information can be obtained from GP practices or health centres.

Self-help and further information: self help programme

Royal College of Psychiatry:

The Depression Alliance:

Coventry and Warwickshire NHS trust has a number of self-help apps available to download

Self-help booklet on Shyness and Social anxiety - Tips from Buzzfeed for coping in social situations

Useful resources

Available from the University Library:    
CBT based book aimed at those who particularly struggle with social situations Gillian Butler
Readable, uses case examples, includes sections on self-help and relationships Murray B Stein,, John R Walker

The University of Warwick cannot be responsible for the content of other websites.