Is social anxiety considered a mental illness..?

  • Hi! My friend gets really nervous and uncomfortable in unfamiliar social situations... Simple things like walking into a room full of strangers, giving presentations or even making small talk make her really stressed and anxious. She will spend weeks worrying about upcoming social events and afterwards, spend lots of time and mental energy worrying about how she acted. Once, at a birthday party celebration, she even locked herself in the bathroom as she was feeling too "overwhelmed". Is this perfectly normal or is it because she's too "shy"? And how can I help her as a friend?

  • It does sound like your friend is feeling anxious and has a hard time coping with social situations, especially the ones she isn't used to. To be fair, interacting with strangers and giving presentations aren't exactly daily occurrences, so we can certainly empathise with your friend's anxiety! We aren't in a position to prescribe whether something is a disorder or a otherwise, but what we can see is that she needs some tools to cope better. As a friend, perhaps you could consider learning about anxiety and there are tonnes of helpful information from reputable sites, such as Be encouraging without being pushy, be empathetic, and listen without judging. Another way to help your friend cope with a potentially stress-inducing social situation is perhaps checking out the location beforehand, arriving earlier, sitting at a safe comfortable space where she might be able to take "time out" or exit the event quietly.

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