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Do you feel anxious in social situations? Are you feeling lonely, isolated, depressed? Do you feel as if no one else understands? The Social Anxiety Café is a friendly support forum for people suffering from shyness and social anxiety.
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What is social anxiety?

It is a fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people, more specifically, the dread of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people which causes feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. If a person becomes anxious in social situations, but seems fine when they are alone, then "social anxiety" may be the problem. The feelings that accompany this disorder include intense fear, nervousness, racing heart, blushing, dry throat and mouth, trembling, weak knees, and muscle twitches. People with social anxiety know that their anxiety is irrational, yet the thoughts and feelings persist and cannot be willed away.

In public places, such as supermarket queues, doctor's waiting rooms, work meetings or travelling on buses, people with social anxiety may feel that everyone is watching, staring, and judging them. They have great difficulty relaxing, "taking it easy", and enjoying themselves in public. The anxiety is often so distressing it becomes much easier just to stay away from social situations and avoid other people altogether - such a coping strategy can turn into an avoidant personality disorder.

Even when around familiar people, a person with social anxiety may often feel overwhelmed and have the feeling that others are noticing their every action and criticising their every word. People with social anxiety usually experience significant distress in the following situations: being introduced to a stranger, being teased, being the centre of attention, being watched or observed performing a task (something as simple as writing their own name), meeting people of authority, making eye contact with someone, and performing any number of activities in public (making a phone call, paying at the check out, eating in a restaurant).

Social anxiety is the largest anxiety disorder and the third largest mental health care problem in the world today, yet most people know little about it. People with this disorder are often labelled as "shy", "aloof", "unsociable", "a loner" and even "rude", but inside they can feel trapped in their shell by this debilitating problem. The latest research shows that social anxiety may affect up to 7% of the population at any given time.

Since few socially-anxious people realise they are suffering from a treatable disorder, they tend to keep their problem to themselves. For others, it becomes a sort of catch-22 situation, their fear of what people may think keeps them from seeking help for the anxiety.

The purpose of this forum is to provide support for sufferers of shyness and social anxiety. It is a forum for you to tell your stories and receive support from people who understand, to vent about related problems such as loneliness, isolation and depression, to give hope and inspiration by relating positive experiences, to share information about medications and therapies, and to discuss your feelings in an open and supportive environment.

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