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Social phobia (social anxiety disorder)

A description of social phobia.
A young girl trying to hide her face
© University of East Anglia

With social phobia, children feel too afraid of what others will think or say. They are always afraid they might do or say something embarrassing.

They worry they might sound or look weird. They don’t like to be the centre of attention. They don’t want others to notice them, so they might avoid raising their hand in class. If they get called on in class, they may freeze or panic and can’t answer. With social phobia, a class presentation or a group activity with classmates can cause extreme fear.

Social phobia can cause children and teens to avoid school or friends. They may feel sick or tired before or during school. They may complain of other body sensations that go with anxiety too. For example, they may feel their heart racing or feel short of breath. They may feel jumpy and feel they can’t sit still. They may feel their face get hot or blush. They may feel shaky or lightheaded.

© University of East Anglia
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Anxiety in Children and Young People during COVID-19

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