Social Anxiety Weighs on Teens in School

Photo Credit: Rachel Idzerda,

By Katie Logue ‘25

Social anxiety affects many people, especially students in high school. It is defined as “a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety” ( Many things can cause social anxiety, but there are also ways to identify and help if someone suffers from it.

People with social anxiety fear public things such as schools, parties, athletic activities, and more. Social anxiety causes people to feel self-conscious because they think people are always watching them or making fun of them, and feel like they might do something embarrassing. People sometimes confuse shy people with people who suffer from social anxiety. While this may be true for some, not all people who struggle with this type of anxiety are antisocial.

Some signs of social anxiety that you can look for in yourself or others are negative emotions, physical feelings, and behaviors. Emotional symptoms include feelings of anxiety, worry, fear, embarrassment, shame, helplessness, sadness, and anger. Physical signs are stomach aches, blushing, sweating, shaking, muscle tension, irritability, and feeling detached from your body. Behavioral symptoms include: refusing to go to school, not trying new/different things, needing a parent or someone else nearby, avoiding social events, not answering in class, mumbling, making poor eye contact, and staying in instead of going out with friends.

Teachers can help those suffering from social anxiety by letting students pick groups for projects. That way, those with social anxiety don’t need to worry about meeting someone else that might judge them. Providing an award may also help bring an incentive into participating in class for students with social anxiety. Make sure students are aware that bullying/harassment/discrimination is forbidden and will be punished and make sure it’s known that if you’re participating in being disrespectful, you will get in trouble.

If you’re a parent wanting to help your child, you could practice social engagements so your child can get comfortable with them. You can also teach your child to identify when they feel negative thoughts or an anxiety attack coming and teach them breathing exercises and relaxation strategies to cope.

Social anxiety can be a struggle, but don’t let it take control of you. There are many ways to identify and conquer social anxiety that can make it easier to manage.

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