Do I have social anxiety disorder?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I feel I might have social anxiety disorder. I am in college right now taking nursing which is going very well. But my problem is I feel like everyone is always talking about me behind my back. If I hear someone laughing I automatically think they’re laughing at me. Or I think people are always staring at me. And it has been like this for many years. I was bullied a little bit throught grade school and I took some of the jokes people said about me along the way which I still cannot get over. I don’t tell people what happened through grade school but I feel people are bullying me about something else and ever since then I have felt that way. When high school started and college. I have met a lot of friends and people enjoy my company. I just can’t get away from the fact that I always think people are talking about me. I don’t know what to do. I feel depressed sad angry etc all the time.

A. Nothing that you have described makes me think that you have social anxiety disorder. You mentioned that you have many friends. People with social anxiety disorder have difficulty making friends, fitting in and often feel extremely shy around others, among other symptoms. When you describe the feeling or belief that others are talking behind your back, this is either one of two things: paranoia or you are overly concerned with what people think about you. I am not sure which one of these would best fit what you are experiencing but it is likely one of these, or maybe a little of both, is contributing to your problem.

If this problem continues to affect you in such a negative way (i.e. feeling sad and angry all of the time) then I would suggest seeing a counselor. The counselor can help you determine whether people are in fact talking about you, or if you are experiencing some form of paranoia. You may also be worried about what people are saying about you, as I mentioned above. And if you are overly concerned about this, this worry and constant focus on what others think about you will inhibit your ability to be your authentic self thereby frustrating you, making you sad and angry. If the latter is true, a counselor can also help you sort out these issues as well. Take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Oct 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). Do I have social anxiety disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/10/07/do-i-have-social-anxiety-disorder/