Always Self-Conscious: The Fears of Teen Social Anxiety

It can be common for teens to experience embarrassment around their friends. Perhaps you feel always on edge, as though they might reject you, judge you, or criticize you in front of other peers.


This can be a “normal” experience for teens. However, when the experience of teen social anxiety gets in the way of normal socializing or even affecting your grades at school, that’s when it might be considered a psychological illness. That’s when it would be diagnosed as a psychological disorder and possibly medically treated to provide a relief of those symptoms.


Teen Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as Social Phobia) is an illness in which the fear of social situations, specifically fearing judgment and embarrassment in those situations, is excessive. A teen might be excessively worried about how he or she looks or will behave and might even avoid those situations to escape the anxiety, rather than enjoying that experience. Social phobia tends to also come within an extreme feeling of self-consciousness and a fear of humiliating oneself.


To make matters worse, one interesting psychological trait of teens is the belief in being the center of attention, even when they are not. For instance, an adolescent might be grossly concerned about how he or she looks because “everybody’s noticing”. And at the same time, a teen’s anxiety about the way they look or who they are can be exacerbated by this sense of having an imaginary audience. In general, this is not necessarily a negative trait of adolescence. For some teens, it can lead to feeling invincible, invulnerable, and the heroes of their own personal fantasy. Feeling as though you are the center of attention is one of the classic inner experiences of being an adolescent.


However, for some teens, feeling like everyone is watching can begin to feel and look like anxiety. If blown out of proportion that feeling can go awry. The thought and feeling that everyone is watching can turn into an invasive experience. And in fact, for some, the stress of the psychological, emotional, and physical changes of adolescence coupled with the weight of the world’s eyes on them can lead to the development of certain mental illnesses. It can facilitate the development of depression and/or social anxiety.


Teen social Anxiety is the most common anxiety disorder in teens and can cause significant levels of impairment in their school, home, and work life. If untreated, anxiety can further lead to major depressive disorder and addiction. Sadly, many teens don’t do anything about the way they feel. They believe that their inner discomfort and low self worth are normal and don’t do anything about it.


For the general public, anxiety disorders are the most common type of psychological illness. According to authors of the book Anatomy of Addiction, 19.1 million adults suffer from anxiety, which translates to about 13.3 percent of the U.S. population, or about one in every seven adults. Also, the Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that one in eight children and teens are affected by anxiety disorders.


Treatment of phobias in teens can be difficult. Some believe in immersion therapy, also known as exposure therapy, wherein an adolescent is slowly introduced to the thing or situation that they fear most. Behavioral therapy can also be helpful in identifying the root cause of a particular phobia, which can be vital to the recovery process. Sometimes medication is prescribed when a phobia is particularly severe. It is important to consult a qualified therapist when determining the best course of action for treatment. Every teen is different, and what works in one case may not work in another.


If phobia is interfering in your life, know that there are a variety of supportive tools to use. Between medication, therapy, and relaxation techniques, you can heal from anxiety and not let a phobia come between you and your well-being.