Social anxiety may be one of the most common anxiety disorders in the UK, but safety in numbers provides little comfort for those who suffer from the condition. Meeting new people, dealing with authority figures or mingling at parties are all situations which might prompt a nervous reaction, but if you’re someone with social anxiety you know the feelings can extend far beyond mild distress. Going to the shops, talking on the telephone or simply eating and drinking in the company of others can be sheer agony – not to mention the hours of pre-emptive worry or sleepless nights spent dissecting the experience afterwards.
Social anxiety is essentially the fear of being judged negatively. It emerges from the belief that you just won’t meet other people’s standards and will be treated with derision, pity or contempt as a result - if not to your face then behind your back. It’s a horrible and debilitating condition but thankfully there is help out there and it’s a subject people are starting to take seriously.
Earlier this year, BBC Radio 5Live aired a special programme on social anxiety, fronted by presenter Nicky Campbell. It features ideas on treatment, coping mechanisms, as well as guests and listeners who have lived with the condition - some have found means of working through it, others simply share their experiences. Whether you suffer from social anxiety disorder yourself or are just curious about it, this is one of the most compelling, helpful and insightful podcasts you can listen to on the subject.