Two people talking freely and one person who looks anxious

Social Anxiety Disorder

Also known as SAD

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a mental health issue that involves a dread of social situations including performing or speaking in front of others for fear of being negatively judged. According to mental health experts, SAD impacts 7% of the U.S. population.

Although it's common for many people to experience nervousness or feel "butterflies" when facing certain social situations, people with SAD are extremely self-conscious and worry about what people think to the point that they often experience physical symptoms. These may include a rapid heart rate, sweating, blushing, nausea, shaking, and lightheadedness.

People with SAD often benefit from psychotherapy techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Medication is also recommended to help cope and take control of the situation.

Key Terms
Woman looking away, unhappy
The Best Treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder
Coping with social anxiety disorder
Coping With Social Anxiety: The Best Self-Help Strategies
Sad teen sitting on bed
Social Anxiety Disorder in Children
Panic attacks may come on suddenly
How to Manage Your Body During a Panic Attack
stressed young man
Overgeneralization and Social Anxiety
Different cultures have different reflections of social anxiety.
Cultural Differences in Social Anxiety Disorder
Stop smoking to reduce anxiety in the long run.
5 Bad Health Habits That May Increase Social Anxiety
Couple holding hands
8 Things People With Social Anxiety Crave
girl standing behind curtain
Differences Between Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder
The history of SAD spans many decades.
A Brief History of Social Anxiety Disorder
women talking
Passive Communication and Social Anxiety
Upset woman sitting on couch alone at home
Maladaptive Behaviors and Social Anxiety Disorder
Sad woman sitting outside
5 Persistent Myths About Social Anxiety Disorder
Unhappy woman standing outside
Negative Automatic Thoughts and Social Anxiety
shy toddler boy holding into dad's legs
Link Between Behavioral Inhibition and Social Anxiety
Socially anxious people tend to date less.
Rational Responses and Social Anxiety
Exuberant male marathon runner crossing finish line with arms raised
Mental Health Awareness Charity Runs or Walks
A girl standing separate from a group with her arms folded.
Social Anxiety Disorder - Diagnosis and Self Help
Avoidant personality disorder can lead to isolation.
Avoidant Personality Disorder: Definition, Symptoms, Traits, Causes, Treatment
Self-esteem can be built through experiences.
How Self-Esteem Affects Social Anxiety Disorder
Paruresis is the fear of using public toilets.
Paruresis is the Fear of Using Public Toilets
women having argument in office
How to Avoid Aggressive Communication If You Have SAD
Panic attacks may come on suddenly.
The Cycle of Panic in Social Anxiety Disorder
Impostor syndrome can be related to perfectionism.
Imposter Syndrome: Definition, Symptoms, Traits, Causes, Treatment
The spotlight effect is experienced as part of social anxiety.
The Spotlight Effect and Social Anxiety
blushing woman covering face
How to Deal With Blushing When You Have SAD
a woman covering face with hands
Do You Want to Be Invisible and Hide From People?
Sad woman standing at bar
Why Do People With Social Anxiety Disorder Shake?
Brain scans, MRI scans
How Brain Imaging Helps Explain Social Anxiety Disorder
A doctor explains test results to a patient.
Mini-Social Phobia Inventory (Mini-SPIN)
Hormones can influence social anxiety
The Effect of Hormones on Your Social Anxiety
Woman completing questionnaire
Profile of the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale
Woman looking out window
Understanding Why You're Afraid of People
Questionnaires can be used to assess social anxiety.
Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale
Woman filling out a survey
Profile of the Social Avoidance and Distress Scale
A doctor and patient talk in a hospital.
Talking to Your Doctor About Social Anxiety
man surrounded by pill bottles
The Efficacy of Seroquel for Anxiety
Group of friends eating outside
Vitamins and Minerals That Help Reduce Social Anxiety
Medical marijuana is one treatment for social anxiety.
Using Weed to Manage Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Animals are sometimes part of therapy for mental illness.
Animal-Assisted Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder
Woman talking to therapist
How to Talk to a Therapist When You Have Social Anxiety
Mindfulness meditation can help relieve anxiety.
Mindfulness Meditation for Social Anxiety Disorder
Rhodiola rosea may be effective for improving mood and alleviating depression.
Rhodiola: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Interactions
REBT therapy is used in the treatmet of SAD.
Rational Emotive Therapy for SAD: A Sample Session
NLP changes the way you relate to your social anxiety.
Neurolinguistic Programming to Treat Social Anxiety
mature man writing at table
SUDs Rating Scale for Measuring Social Anxiety
Man looking through the yellow pages.
How to Find an Anxiety Therapist
A bunch of lavender
How Lavender Is Used for Social Anxiety
Aromatherapy can help tame anxiety.
Aromatherapy for Social Anxiety Disorder
Interpersonal therapy is helpful for social anxiety and other disorders.
Interpersonal Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder
Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis)
How Is Valerian Root Used for Social Anxiety?
Woman eating a sandwich
How to Practice Exposure Therapy for Social Fears
A bottle of antidepressant pills named Zoloft March 23, 2004 photographed in Miami, Florida. The Food and Drug Administration asked makers of popular anti-depressants to add or strengthen suicide-related warnings on their labels as well as the possibility of worsening depression especially at the beginning of treatment or when the doses are increased or decreased.
How Zoloft Is Used to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder
Man and woman having disscussion
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Use for Social Anxiety Disorder
Woman leaning against a railing with her eyes closed and smiling
Cognitive Restructuring and Social Anxiety
Hawaiian variety of 'Awa or kava kava, Piper methy
How Is Kava Kava Used to Treat Social Anxiety?
Cream and green capsules on a table
How SSRIs Are Used to Treat Social Anxiety Disorder
Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft anti-depressant tablets, close-up
Paxil CR as a Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder
Lexapro is a medication used to treat various mental health conditions.
An Overview of Lexapro for Mental Health Conditions
woman writing at desk
Social Anxiety and Hierarchies
Page Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. ational Institute of Mental Health. Social anxiety disorder: more than just shyness.

  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety disorders. Updated July 2018.