We all may have encountered it from time to time, but what is social anxiety really? Not be confused with shyness or reservedness, social anxiety is a mental health disorder marked by a phobia of interactions with other people. It can affect anyone, even celebrities and public figures.
According to Mayo Clinic, people who have social anxiety experience intense, persistent fear and anxiety around socializing that interferes with their work, relationships, daily routines, doxycycline oral ulcers or other activities. (The persistent nature of these symptoms is key here; if you occasionally get nervous in big-group settings, you probably won’t meet the diagnostic criteria for social anxiety disorder.) They often worry about embarrassing themselves during social interactions, being negatively judged by others, or talking to strangers. These fears may cause them to anxiously anticipate situations where they are the center of attention — or to avoid these scenarios entirely.
Social anxiety is sometimes associated with physical symptoms, such as blushing, sweating, shaking, or an elevated heart rate. The presence of these symptoms can exacerbate a person’s mental distress.
If you have social anxiety, you’re not alone: This disorder affects an estimated 15 million Americans, per the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA). Luckily, there are plenty of treatment options available. Many people choose to go to therapy or take medications, such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, or beta blockers.
People who have social anxiety may come off as shy or aloof, so this disorder is still misunderstood by many. That’s why a growing number of celebrities who have this disorder — from Big Little Lies star Shailene Woodley, to Riverdale alum Cole Sprouse — have spoken publicly about their experiences.
Keep reading to learn more about eight celebrities who’ve talked about their struggles with social anxiety.
In a recent interview with E! News, Eva Longoria mentioned her ongoing struggle with social anxiety. When asked about how she gets red carpet-ready, the actress and director said she always has to “mentally prepare for a very long night.”
“I get social anxiety,” the Desperate Housewives alum shared. “I have so many friends in the business, but I still go, ‘There’s going to be big stars there.’ There’s still that anxiety of, ‘Do I belong?’”
So there you have it: Even big-name celebrities experience the double whammy of social anxiety and imposter syndrome.
Shailene Woodley suffered from social anxiety in silence for quite some time, in part because she didn’t realize she had an anxiety disorder.
“The way that anxiety and mental health is addressed in society, I feel that too often we try to fit it into a very specific experience,” she told Harper’s Bazaar in 2020. “I think there are a lot of people out there who think, ‘Well, I don’t have anxiety in the way that most people define anxiety. When I’m in a group, I don’t have social anxiety in the way people describe social anxiety.’”
Despite internalizing these misconceptions, the actress and activist said she’d actually been experiencing “extreme social anxiety” for years. It impacted her ability to sleep at night and eventually caused her physical body to “start breaking down.”
“I never felt safe, I never felt like I could trust people, I never felt like it was okay to not be in control, that there were other people who could take care of me,” she shared. “I felt like I was my own protector, like I was on my own. And to a certain extent, that’s true. … But there are people who can provide for us, there are people who can make us feel safe.”
Woodley has credited therapy with “dramatically [altering]” her life and helping her take control of her social anxiety.
Cole Sprouse opened up about his struggle with social anxiety in a 2019 Diary Of A CEO video interview about mental health.
“My social anxiety feels a lot like sitting in a sauna when it’s just a bit too hot, right before you have to get out,” he shared. “It’s like this warm, sort of blanketing feeling, but it’s not warm; it’s fucking hot. For me, anxiety’s really present… it is a consistent, ‘I’m living with this, I’m living with this.’”
The Riverdale star also shared his tried-and-true strategy for deescalating his social anxiety: activating his five senses. (Sprouse picked up this technique in therapy, which he has attended “on and off” for years.)
“[I ask mself] what do I see? What do I smell? What can I hear? What can I taste? What do I feel?” he explained. “And it immediately grounds me.”
Ed Sheeran got real about his struggle with social anxiety in a 2019 video interview with Charlamagne Tha God, one of his musical collaborators.
“I have social anxiety,” the English singer-songwriter shared. “I hate large groups of people, which is ironic, because I play shows for a living… but I just feel claustrophobic and don’t like being around too many people.”
Fittingly, No.6 Collaborations Project, Sheeran’s fourth studio album, featured a collab with rapper Travis Scott called “Antisocial.”
Olivia Munn opened up about battling social anxiety in 2012. Speaking to New York Daily News, the actress recalled a formative memory of standing outside a Memorial Day party and feeling too scared to walk in without her friend by her side.
“I don’t think anyone would describe me as weak, but I don’t want people to be mean to me,” she said. “As an Air Force kid, I moved around a lot when I was younger and no one was nice to the new kid. So there is always this feeling that someone will make fun of me.”
At the time, her anxiety also manifested in the form of trichotillomania, a compulsive hair-pulling disorder.
“I don’t bite my nails, but I rip out my eyelashes,” the X-Men: Apocalypse star added. “It doesn’t hurt, but it’s really annoying.”
In 2021, tennis champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open to prioritize her mental health. At the time, Osaka had accidentally stirred up controversy by refusing to participate in a mandatory post-match press conference.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety,” she wrote on Twitter. “Though the tennis press has always been kind to me… I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media.”
It’s easy to see how stressful that could be on an elite athlete who was already under an immense amount of pressure to perform. After apologizing to the media, Osaka said she planned to “work with the Tour to discuss ways we can make things better for the players, press, and fans.”
Former NFL player Ricky Williams shared his social anxiety story in a 2009 blog post for the Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA). He recalled feeling like he “had everything” he’d ever wanted — a high-paying job as a pro footballer at just 23 years old — yet still struggling with his mental health.
At the time, Williams was often portrayed by the media as shy or standoffish. He was also known for conducting interviews with his helmet on. Little did he know he was experiencing severe social anxiety.
“After I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, I felt immense relief because it meant that there was a name for my suffering,” Williams said. “I wasn’t crazy or weird, like I thought for so many years. As part of my treatment program, my physician prescribed an antidepressant, in combination with therapy. Soon thereafter I was able to start acting like the real Ricky Williams.”
Lili Reinhart is best known for portraying the sweet, laidback Betty on the CW’s hit series Riverdale, and she has one big thing in common with her character.
“I’ve had social anxiety forever — I don’t thrive in social or party settings,” the actress told Seventeen magazine in 2018. “Betty doesn’t either, but she’s more inclined to go out and do things. I’d rather stay home and read a book!”
Last year, Reinhart also opened up to the world about her “devastating,” years-long struggle with depression and body image issues.
“I know I’m not alone in this toxic way of thinking about my body,” she shared in a series of candid Instagram Stories. “And it’s heartbreaking that this feeling is understood by so many of us.”
Source: Read Full Article