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Social Anxiety Disorder

Nothing wrong with a little shyness. But this ain’t that. Social Anxiety Disorder is characterised by extreme worry about negative social evaluation. It’s fear of judgment, and fear of embarrassment itself.

If you have Social Anxiety Disorder, you may feel like a reluctant performer, and like there's always an audience when you want one the least.

So you become hyperaware of everything you do... particularly the things you feel you don’t do well. 

Like a performer, you might find yourself rehearsing even the most basic conversations. Almost certainly you'll be watching reruns of them in you mind afterwards…

Our Clinical Psychologists can help you to manage and reduce Social Anxiety symptoms, and help you to get on with achieving your goals.

Overview & Symptoms

Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia, is characterised by an intense fear of social situations where one might be judged, watched, or embarrassed. This isn’t ordinary shyness – it can be debilitating and significantly interfere with daily life.

Some typical characteristics of Social Anxiety Disorder include: 


Intense Fear of Social Situations: You may feel overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Your fear can centre on a specific type of social situation, like speaking in public or making phone calls. Or, it can be more generalised, involving almost any social interaction.


Avoidance and Distress: If you have Social Anxiety Disorder, you likely either avoid social situations altogether or endure them with intense discomfort. The thought of being embarrassed or humiliated in these situations feels overwhelming.


Physical Symptoms: Common physical symptoms during social interactions include blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty speaking. Unfortunately, these symptoms tend to make matters worse, heightening your fear of being judged negatively.


Impact on Functioning: Having Social Anxiety Disorder can severely restrict your ability to form and maintain relationships, perform at school or work, or engage in routine social activities.

Common Social Fears

Fear of negative social evaluation can occur across a range of circumstances and situations. The most common are noted here: 

Speaking in Public: Fear of public speaking, where you fear being scrutinised or judged while speaking, can occur in a range of environments, including school, university and workplaces.


Social Interactions: From meeting new people to attending social gatherings, a broad range of social interactions can prompt social anxiety symptoms. The unfortunate outcome is too often that you might avoid them, or rely upon strategies (e.g., pretending to use your phone, escaping, barely talking) that tend only to limit your engagement with others. 


Performance Situations: Performing in front of others, such as playing a musical instrument or participating in sports, can provoke intense anxiety. Some anxiety is actually quite helpful; however, too much gets in the way of performing to your ability.  


Being Observed: You might find that eating or writing in public can be particularly challenging. Beyond missing out on a particularly good burger, you'll also be at risk of missing out of social gatherings, dating, and a range of other situations.

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder. Clinical Psychologists at our Penrith clinic have a wealth of experience in tailoring CBT specifically to Social Anxiety Disorder symptoms. 

CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder addresses the core fears and avoidance behaviours associated with and perpetuating your anxiety. By confronting feared social situations in a structured and supportive environment, you'll learn that the anticipated negative outcomes are probably less likely than you think, or less severe than you anticipate. You may also learn that you can cope with them either way. This helps to reduce anxiety over time and improves social confidence.


At our Penrith clinic, we start with a comprehensive assessment to understand the specific nature of your social anxiety. The treatment plan is personalised, and we work collaboratively to help you gradually build confidence in social situations, aiming to enhance your overall quality of life.

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