by Robin L Goldstein, EdD Licensed Psychologist

This can be a crippling disorder which inhibits the sufferer from functioning in the world of other people. Human society is social in nature and while there are lifestyles that allow people to live a fairly isolated existence it is often a very diminished life. Shyness is a normally occurring personality type. In fact, psychological research has demonstrated shyness in infants in the first days of life. This is a personality type that endures over time but people often develop their own coping strategies. Shy people can still have an excellent quality of life if their symptoms are not so severe that they are unable to develop any close relationships. Many shy people function quite well in occupations where they are not constantly meeting new people or have set behaviors to perform if they do deal with the public. They may not make many friends but can be very happy with immediate family, a spouse or a few close friends.

With social anxiety a person becomes acutely distressed and anxious in many social situations. They avoid many activities which are normal for a person in their situation. They are handicapped by their anxiety at work and in their ability to develop close relationships. Usually a person with social anxiety recognizes that their fear is excessive and unrealistic but they are not able to overcome their anxiety. This anxiety disorder can be seen in young children although it can also develop in adults, often as a complication to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The most common situations which cause a socially anxious person to suffer are, “initiating or maintaining conversations, participating in small groups, dating, speaking to authority figures, attending parties.” This definition is from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.


Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the treatment of choice for social anxiety. This is the single most effective approach. Medications can be helpful but are usually not sufficient to resolve symptoms. Exposure therapy and systematic desensitization are also used for Social Anxiety Disorder. Beta blockers are often helpful for people who primarily have problems with public speaking.

I urge you to get help so you can get better, please call 561.212.5408  to schedule an appointment, or contact me.