Signs of Social Anxiety in Teens


As a parent, it can be challenging to recognize social anxiety symptoms in your teen. Many of us may not even be sure exactly what social anxiety is and how to respond to this medical condition. When exactly does someone cross the threshold from anxiety (which we all experience at times) to a medical diagnosis of social anxiety?

Here, we’re taking a closer look at social anxiety, especially how this mental health condition manifests in teens, and identify key signs and symptoms of social anxiety. We then explore various treatment options that prove effective for many people. If you believe your teen may be suffering from social anxiety or any other mental health condition, speak with them honestly and openly. Then, seek out the assistance of a trained mental health professional.


According to the Mayo Clinic, social anxiety is a chronic mental health condition that can drastically impact someone’s life. While we all fear anxious or nervous at times, those with social anxiety, also known as social phobia, may find everyday interactions unbearable. Driven by fear, embarrassment, and self-conscious behaviors, individuals with social anxiety may try to avoid normal interactions with others. In many instances, this isolation can lead to further anxiety and depression.


There is no single cause of social anxiety. Rather, there are a variety of risk factors that can make someone (especially a child or teen) more susceptible to developing social anxiety disorder. While additional research is still needed, some studies suggest that social anxiety could be genetic. Thus, if someone else in your family history has social anxiety, your teen’s risk for developing this condition could increase.

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Social factors also play an important role. Naturally shy children or teens tend to have a higher risk of social anxiety. Additionally, those who undergo intense, prolonged bullying or experience a traumatic event (like the loss of a loved one), also have a greater risk for social anxiety. Of course, no single risk factor is a guarantee your teen will have this mental health condition, which is why it’s so important to understand the signs and symptoms of social anxiety.


No two cases of social anxiety are the exact same, which can make it difficult to accurately identify this issue—especially in teens. Since individuals of this age are known to be moody and withdrawn at times, this behavior might seem normal. In many cases, this is true; however, it’s important to be able to identify the signs of social anxiety in teens.

While your teen usually won’t display all the common signs of social anxiety, here are some of the most common symptoms:

·                      Overly anxious about being around other people (especially meeting new people).

·                      Difficulty having conversations with others.

·                      Feeling extremely uncomfortable and self-conscious around others.

·                      Constant fear of being embarrassed.

·                      Difficulty making friends and maintaining relationships.

·                      Fear of being judged by others.

·                      Overly harsh self-criticism following interactions.

·                      Avoiding public places and social settings.

·                      Rapid heartbeat, sweating, even shaking during social situations.


If you believe your teen is experiencing social anxiety, this is not the end of the world. In fact, social anxiety is a very treatable (and common) mental health disorder for individuals of any age. According to Mental Health America (MHA), over 15 million adults in the United States live with social anxiety disorder. As such a prevalent issue for so many individuals, doctors and mental health experts have developed various treatment options.

Here’s a look at the most common treatment options for teens with social anxiety disorder:

1.            Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Cognitive behavioral therapy, sometimes referred to as psychotherapy, is an effective treatment option for those with social anxiety. These therapy sessions can be conducted one-on-one or in a group setting and focus on developing healthy behaviors and strategies for living with their condition. While the idea of social anxiety treatment in a group setting might seem ironic, it can be beneficial for teens to learn from others who are also experiencing social anxiety.

2.            Medication.

In some cases, doctors may prescribe medication to help teens manage their social anxiety symptoms. Anxiety medication targets the brain’s emotional control center and helps these synapses function more effectively. In some cases, a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy is most effective for treating teens with social anxiety. Ketamine infusion therapy has also shown great promise in recent years.

3.            Exposure therapy.

Exposure therapy allows your teen to face their fears and anxieties in a safe and controlled environment. Over time, this can prove to be a very effective treatment option.

4.            Residential teen treatment center.

Residential treatment centers offer a more comprehensive approach to treatment. These in-patient facilities provide around-the-clock care for their patients and are staffed by trained medical and mental health professionals.

Of course, before beginning any treatment plan, you should have an open and honest conversation with your teen. Try to understand the condition from their perspective and make sure you’re coming from a place of understanding—not judgment. Treatment is only effective when everyone—your teen especially—is on board.


Social anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders. While people of any age can experience this issue, teens are especially susceptible as they are already undergoing a period of social exploration and new experiences. Being a teen is hard, but being a teen with social anxiety can make even the simplest of interactions almost unbearable.

Social anxiety can cause a teen to withdraw from social settings and make it harder for them to make connections. This isolation can even develop into depression. If you notice your teen expressing the common signs and symptoms of social anxiety, it’s important to have an honest discussion with them.

If you both agree it would be beneficial, consider moving forward with one of the many effective treatment options. Whether choosing psychotherapy, medication, or a residential treatment teen center, what’s most important is that you’re recognizing the issue and taking action.

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