Living With Social Anxiety Disorder

Anxious and sad woman outside

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Living with social anxiety disorder (SAD) can be devastating to daily functioning. Usually, people go many years without a diagnosis of SAD and over time develop poor ways of coping (but don't beat yourself up—you did the best you could).

Whether you are still struggling, have just been diagnosed, are entering treatment, or having a relapse, the following tips can help keep you on the path toward management of your symptoms.

Getting Help

Without proper treatment, social anxiety disorder can be chronic and severely impair your quality of life. Unfortunately, the nature of the disorder means that you are a person who is afraid to ask for help.

If even approaching a friend, family member or your doctor seems too overwhelming, try writing down your thoughts instead and either mailing a letter, sending an email, or handing over a letter in person.

Social Anxiety Disorder Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions at your next doctor's appointment.

Mind Doc Guide

SAD and Your Career

A strong relationship has been found between social anxiety disorder and lower educational attainment, reduced employment opportunities, lower income, and dependence on social assistance. Applying for a job, going for an interview, managing work-related social tasks, and speaking in front of others are all aspects of jobs that can trigger social anxiety.

If you are currently employed, the best way to manage SAD in the workplace may be to tell your employer about your condition and learn strategies for coping with work meetings and business lunches (if you're afraid to eat in front of other people).


Although no substitute for proper diagnosis and treatment, the use of self-help strategies may offer some control over your symptoms and allow you to be an active participant in the recovery process.

The following self-help strategies may help to reduce your anxiety:

Stories of Others

Reading stories about other people that are living with social anxiety disorder will help to make you feel less alone. Start by looking around for blogs about living with social anxiety disorder.


SAD can affect your relationships with significant others, friends, and family. It can affect your ability to make friends and to find a romantic partner. It can even negatively affect those who are closest to you, as they try to help you deal with your anxiety symptoms.

Coping with the impact of social anxiety disorder on your relationships means learning where to meet people, how to ask someone on a date, and how to cope with your SAD if the day comes when you decide to get married.

If you're a friend or family member of someone coping with SAD, it's also helpful to learn what you can do to help, and how to cope yourself.

Social Skills

Some people who have SAD also suffer from a deficit in social skills. Fortunately, social skills can be learned as part of a social skills training program sometimes incorporated with treatment.

A therapist may describe a particular skill, explain how to carry it out, and model the behavior to help someone with SAD improve in the following areas:

Handling Performance Anxiety

Performances can take many forms: public speaking, athletic competitions, and even musical events. If you suffer from social anxiety disorder and are involved in some sort of performing, chances are that you have battled nerves on stage or during a competition.

A Word From VeryWell

Only you can decide how best to live with SAD. If you have been in treatment, you may simply need to be vigilant about using coping strategies to avoid a relapse of symptoms.

Most people will never live completely without social anxiety, but rather achieve a balance in which your anxiety does not negatively affect your daily functioning or place limits on what you can achieve.

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."