In contrast to the normal level of nervousness, social anxiety or social phobia includes fear, intense nervousness (anxiety) and avoidance that interferes with the daily routine, work, school or other activities. For children, symptoms include crying, having temper tantrums, clinging to parents or refusing to speak in social situations. For adults, anxiety and self-consciousness arise from intense fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others, excessive worrying about embarrassing or humiliating themselves, concerns of offending others, fear that others notice they look anxious, fear of physical symptoms that may cause embarrassment, such as blushing, sweating, trembling, having a shaky voice, muscle tension, fast heartbeat, trouble catching breath, or even bowel sounds, diarrhea, odor and gas, expecting the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation. Individuals with social anxiety disorder tend to avoid people and situations where they might be the center of attention, are anxious anticipating social events and spend time after a social situation analyzing their performance and identifying flaws.
Social phobia may be inherited or learned, when amygdala in the brain is overreactive heightening fear response, while prefrontal cortex, orchestrating thoughts and moderating social behaviors, is underactive.