Psych Central

Social Anxiety

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I really don’t know what to do. I can’t handle all the things that come with being social, having friends; like texting with them, hanging out with them. I always think they will be mean to me, hurt me, etc. I always think they’re mad at me and just don’t like me. I’d much rather be alone with my boyfriend, without any other friends. My boyfriend is the only person I trust and I’m not anxious around. The problem is when I’m alone, I think everybody is looking at me like I’m not normal, like I’m not worth anything.

The only solution to me is staying in (which of course is not possible) and even then I’m anxious about when I should text my friends, if they are not texting me because they hate me, etc.

Please, I have always had this my entire life and want to get rid of this. I can’t even find people I like anymore, my boyfriend thinks because I’m scared of getting close with people, if I like them and therefore I always go to people I don’t like… I just want to find good people or stop being anxious about being with people AND about being alone… I don’t want to be scared to be alone, because I prefer alone above being with people, because that’s even worse…

I hope someone can help me with this, tell me what to do. If you’d tell me it’s really needed to go get help, I will, I just need an opinion first.
Thank you!

A: What you are describing is consistent with social anxiety. People with social anxiety are overly worried that they might be judged negatively by other people. Lots of people have mild social anxiety and find it somewhat difficult to make friends or to be comfortable around other people. But it is serious when it interferes with a person’s life so much that they only trust a very few people and don’t want to go out at all. That seems to be the case with you.

The good news is that there is help for social anxiety. You can start by reading up on it. Search the web for information about what it is and how it is treated.

Here are a couple of good books you might want to look at:
“Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques” by Gillian Butler.
“Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook: Proven, Step-by-Step Techniques for Overcoming your Fear” by Martin Antony
If your boyfriend wants to help you, he could support you while you do the activities that are recommended.

Another option is to look for a cognitive-behavioral therapist. CBT has been proven to be the most effective treatment for anxiety and depression. A therapist will provide you with practical coaching and emotional support.

Please do start working on the problem. It won’t get better by itself. You deserve to be more comfortable and to have some good friends.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Social Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 16, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/23/social-anxiety/