Social Anxiety: What Is It and How Does One Cope?

By Emma Yasukawa

Everyone has been put in an uncomfortable social situation; whether it was meeting someone new, going on a first date, or briefly meeting a stranger on the streets. Though these feelings are not pleasant, most people can power through and get over them quickly. However, if a person has social anxiety, these feelings are so severe that they can sometimes be too much to handle. Eventually, that individual will try to isolate themselves and avoid any uncomfortable social situation. This may provide a great form of relief but overall, it is a temporary solution to a greater problem.

Social anxiety disorder (formerly known as social phobia) is characterized by the persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or judgement by others. The feelings that stem from social anxiety are usually based upon the fear that the individual will act in a certain way, or show anxiety symptoms, that will be embarrassing and humiliating. Common physical symptoms that a person may experience are:
• Flushing of the skin
• Rapid heartbeat
• Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
• Upset stomach and nausea
• Trembling

Social anxiety can be treated successfully through psychotherapy and/or medications. Exposure therapy is a key element in the use of therapy and usually involves three stages: The first stage of exposure therapy is to introduce the individual to the feared situation. The second stage is to increase the risk of displeasure for the goal that the individual can build self-confidence and be able to handle any rejection or criticism. The third stage involves working out different coping mechanisms involving disapproval. In this final stage, the therapist may ask the patient to imagine their worst-case scenario in order to develop correct constructive responses.

If you or someone you know is struggling with social anxiety, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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Social Anxiety and College: How to Cope This Semester

By Samantha Glosser

College is a stressful time for most students and it can quite often seem too difficult to cope with the pressures commonly found on college campuses. For someone with social anxiety, a disorder characterized by persistent fear of negative evaluation by others in social situations, this reality is all too real. They are faced with public speaking, graded class participation, and the anxiety of interacting with other students in clubs, organizations, and even at parties. And don’t forget the terror of meeting your new roommate! Being completely emerged in these situations makes it easy to feel like your social anxiety is inhibiting you in all aspects of your college life; however, this does not need to be the case.

There are plenty of things you can do to treat your social anxiety before it gets in the way of your college experience. For some, self-help techniques are useful. Participating in deep breathing exercises and positive self-talk are such techniques. Deep breathing helps to alleviate some of the physical symptoms of social anxiety, while positive self-talk can lessen the effect that anxiety has on negative thoughts. However, others benefit from psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or medications (antidepressants) targeted for social anxiety. This treatment plan typically includes exposure therapy, which gradually places you in anxiety-provoking situations while simultaneously teaching you relaxation skills to cope with your anxiety. It can help you to understand the irrational basis of your worries. A combination of psychotherapy, medication, and at home self-help strategies are an effective way to prevent your social anxiety from taking over your college experience.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from social anxiety disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit