The musical “Dear Evan Hansen” is about a high school senior with severe social anxiety. It is so severe that he has no friends. Throughout the musical, it is apparent he is a special young man, but can’t see it for various reasons.
Social anxiety is REAL. According to an ABC news story, 15 MILLION Americans suffer from social anxiety. It can be debilitating to some. Others have a mild case of it. I am one with a mild case of it. I am able to handle it without the use of medications. BUT, there are days I don’t deal so well with it.
Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include persistent:
- Fear of situations in which you may be judged
- Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself
- Intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers
- Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
- Fear of physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment, such as blushing, sweating, trembling or having a shaky voice
- Avoiding doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
- Avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention
- Having anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event
- Enduring a social situation with intense fear or anxiety
- Spending time after a social situation analyzing your performance and identifying flaws in your interactions
- Expecting the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation
Social anxiety disorder typically begins in the early to mid-teens, though it can sometimes start in younger children or in adults. It can be mistaken for “just puberty” or “acting out”. That is NOT what it is. It is a real medical condition that needs some kind of treatment.
For those suffering from social anxiety: You are not alone. Many people suffer from it and we understand. If you are lucky to not suffer from social anxiety: Please be understanding of those that are. They are not seeking attention or “acting out”. And they really cannot help how social situations make them feel. They need help and sometimes, they cannot find the words to say it.