Because many teens with anxiety view it as a personal weakness or failing, they can experience a “sinking” feeling that often times seems overwhelming. It can leave them feeling scared, unprotected, and constantly overwhelmed even by the smallest thing. Teens with these feelings find it difficult to form connections because they think everyone sees their problems, they want to avoid talking about their worries, or experiencing their emotions, and they think others will not understand or judge them.
Social Phobias in Teens with Anxiety
Beyond the typical inhibitions that anxiety places on teens, some teens can experience increased anxiety when in social situations, also known as social phobia. These teens can experience intense anxiety triggered by social situations and speaking in front of others; this response often stems from the intense fears of specific situations or things that are not actually dangerous.
While many of these situations are likely to cause a natural state of nervousness, such as public speaking, teens with social phobia become overcome by fear of criticism, public humiliation, appearing stupid, or not being good enough. For others, situations as common as eating in front of other people at a restaurant or making small talk and trigger the social anxiety. Teens with social phobia may exhibit:
- Ongoing fear of situations in which a teen is exposed to unfamiliar people
- Fear of situations in which a teen may come under scrutiny of others
- Avoidance and fear of school-related events
- Substantial interference with most social activities
Because of the chronic fear teens with anxiety and social phobias experience, they will often seek to avoid any situation in which they fear they may act in a way that is humiliating or embarrassing. This can in turn, have a serious negative effect on their social relationships and also their ability to go about a normal daily routine.