Before we even begin, let’s reflect for a moment, shall we? Are you extremely afraid of being judged by others? Do you often stress out before leaving your home – especially when you have to go to really crowded places? Do you turn into a tornado of fabric trying on every article of clothing you own before attending an event? Are you very self-conscious in everyday social situations? Do you pretend to be on your phone or taking a call just to appear busy? Do you avoid meeting new people? What about people you know? Does this sound like you? If you have been feeling so for at least six months and it’s affecting your everyday tasks, you may just have a social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition. It is an intense and persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. And can lead to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, self-consciousness, and depression. This fear can affect a number of aspects of your life. This includes work, school, and other day-to-day activities. It can even make it hard to make and keep friends. But social anxiety disorder doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your potential. Treatment can help you overcome your symptoms.

Social Anxiety: Specific

Specified social anxieties mean you only feel symptoms during specific times. For example, you could have social anxiety that manifests when speaking in front of groups. Or getting called on in class.

“In school, I was always afraid of being called on, even when I knew the answers. I didn’t want people to think I was stupid or boring. My heart would pound, and I would feel dizzy and sick”.

Social Anxiety: Generalized

Those with generalized anxiety, however, are generally anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable in almost all social situations. It is much more common for people with social anxiety to have a generalized type of this disorder. This includes ever-present feelings of anxiety, worry, indecision, depression, feelings of inferiority, and self-blame.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

Those with social anxiety tend to feel or do a combination of the following:
• Blushing, sweating, or trembling
• Rapid heart rate
• Feelings of nausea or being sick to your stomach
• Avoid eye contact
• Fear interacting with new people and have a hard time making new friends
• Self-conscious in front of others
• Often feel embarrassed or awkward
• Hate being the center of attention

The most common symptom of social anxiety disorder is intense anxiety that refuses to go away.

Effective Therapy Treatments

CBT counseling or Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy based on the cognitive model claiming “the way individuals perceive a situation is more closely connected to their reaction than the situation itself.” The goal is to boost happiness by modifying negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Unlike other forms of therapy that focus on a patients’ past, CBT counseling encourages problem-solving to change destructive thought patterns and behaviors. And research has found to be extremely helpful for those that suffer from social anxiety.

How Can We Help You?

Negative thoughts and behaviors in regard to social situations can and do happen. But when we find ourselves in that negative state of mind, we may be basing our thoughts and reactions based on that negative view of the situation – often making the issue seem far much worse than it is. The goal of CBT is to help encourage problem-solving and coping skills to correct those misinterpretations. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you navigate your personal roadblocks.


* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.

Scott Cunningham – LPC

For the past 20 years, Scott has been providing a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable talking about their depression, fears, stresses, and hopes for life. Having a collaborative relationship with clients is important to him. Scott brings hope and knowledge into his sessions and provides psycho-education to aid in the effectiveness of therapy. He works with clients coping with issues such as, but not limited to anxiety, trauma, depression, partner-relational issues & phase of life transitions. My experience entails couples, adolescent, family and adult counseling.

He is certified in Chemical Dependency Counseling, ASIST Suicide Intervention, Crisis Intervention Stress Management, and Comprehensive Crisis Management. He has earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling Education from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor’s of Science in Christian Counseling from Fort Wayne Bible College. Scott’s goal is to help people struggling with trauma to regain stability and strength as well as insight into their issues. He believes that everyone has an innate ability to grow and learn. He enjoys helping people accomplish that goal and live better and more productive lives.