Social anxiety is a prevalent, yet misunderstood, condition. Barlow, there are many different features of social anxiety. They are (1) "marked and persistent fear of one or more social performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others, with the fear that one will be embarrassed or humiliated," (2) "exposure to the feared social situation almost invariably provokes anxiety, sometimes as a panic attack," (3) "recognition that the fear is excessive or unreasonable," (4) "the feared social or performance situation is avoided or are endured with intense anxiety or distress," and (5) "the avoidance, anxious, anticipation, or distress in the feared social or performance situation(s) interferes significantly with the person's life and healthy functioning" (Durand & Barlow 143). .
A variation of social anxiety is performance anxiety or what some people call "stage fright" and these people only fear speaking or performing in public. People who have performance anxiety have no difficulty with social interaction. It's when they have to do something in front of people that anxiety takes over and they get worked up over the possibility of embarrassing themselves in front of others. Simple things in everyday life like eating in a restaurant, speaking up, or going to parties can provoke performance anxiety. When in private, people with performance anxiety have no difficulty eating, writing, or urinating. Social anxiety affects "as many as 12.1% of the general population at some point in their lives" (Durand & Barlow 143). This makes social anxiety one of the most widespread anxiety disorders, affecting over thirty-five million citizens within the United States alone. About one-third of people who have social anxiety also have performance anxiety.
The normal peak age of onset for someone with social anxiety is age thirteen, but social anxiety can start anytime around adolescence.