Situations That Can Trigger Anxiety

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If you suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD), it is likely that a variety of different situations trigger fearful feelings. Any social or performance situation has the potential to elicit social fears. Below is a list of some of the most common situations.​

Common Triggers of Anxiety

  • Performances: Performances may include athletic competitions, musical performances, or public speaking. People with SAD who fear these types of situations will not perform up to their ability. Fears about public speaking can also get in the way of career advancement.
  • Parties / Meeting New People: Nothing triggers social anxiety like a room full of strangers. Meeting people for the first time or going to a party where you don't know anyone may be challenging if you have SAD.
  • Talking to Authority Figures: People with SAD may have difficulty speaking to those in authority such as teachers, professors, and employers.
  • Making Small Talk: Although small talk comes easily for some, those with SAD may find this type of conversation challenging.
  • Dating: All aspects of dating can trigger social anxiety, from making phone calls and going on first dates to having sex.
  • Writing: If you have SAD you may fear writing in front of others. This worry generally stems from the fear that others will see your hands shake as you write.
  • Stating Your Opinion: Do you avoid stating your opinion? Do you go along with what others say even if you don't agree? People with SAD are often afraid to voice their opinions for fear that others will be critical.
  • Reading Aloud: In addition to a fear of public speaking, some people with SAD fear reading aloud in front of others.
  • Eating in Front of Others: Some people with SAD have a fear of eating in front of others. They may be afraid of spilling a drink or that others will see their hands shaking.
  • Using Public Restrooms: Paruresis, or the fear of using public restrooms, can be debilitating for some people with SAD.

Getting Help for Your Anxiety Triggers

A variety of situations can trigger feelings of social anxiety. If fear of these situations interferes with your functioning on a daily basis and you have not sought help, it is important to meet with a mental health professional. Treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication have been shown to be effective in the treatment of SAD.

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