My son's social anxiety: Hello all. I... - Anxiety and Depre...

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My son's social anxiety


Hello all. I am here because my son has some pretty bad social anxiety and I am looking for ways to help him with this, maybe talk to other parents also. He is 13 years old and HATES attention. He avoids going out in public to places where he might see someone he knows, like a school mate. When he has to go out he gets extremely anxious, heart races, sweaty, very nervous, mad, etc. And if he sees someone he knows and they see him then he will cry (when he gets in the car) and will get angry. He hardly ever wants to go out to eat with us or shopping unless it's in another town. I am a single mom and at a loss of how to help him cope. Advice is greatly appreciated!

6 Replies

I’m so sorry. I’m a mom of three boys and I get how hard it is to watch their suffering.

I wonder if something is happening at school that’s got him to dread seeing someone from there he knows... maybe not, maybe it’s a general anxiety/social anxiety like you say.

I recall feeling the same way growing up actually (I have suffered from anxiety ever since I can remember) and I was embarrassed about who I felt I was and feared how others may see me.

I have a friend who put her high school daughter on Lexapro I think it was and she’s doing much better.

Have you considered medication?

P.s. I find that having a physical outlet like a sport has always helped me and my children to cope get stress out and feel better about self.

There is a really good self help group online for teens that I've personally used growing up (I have a lot of social anxiety among other things) It's called TeenHelp. You could check it out yourself, and if you think it would help him you could introduce him to it. I'd also suggest therapy. It's helped me a lot. I went from not being able to leave my house, and now I can actually go out to some places. (I'm still in treatment and working to improve.)

Just keep in mind that your son can't help this anxiety (Which it sounds like you already know that) I think as long as you are still supportive and willing to help your son anyway you can, will make a huge difference. Having a strong support system is what has helped me improve so much. Without my family and friends I don't think I would have gotten as far as I have. Hope some of this helps!

Dear mlarnold77,

My heart goes out to your son. I’m not a mental health professional but it sounds like a form of agoraphobia to me (fear of leaving the home and/or fear of open spaces).

As a kid I came from a very social family of six. I never liked going with them to social gatherings or anything crowded. I was content as a homebody occupying myself with puzzles, books, etc. Sadly my parents grilled me to “get out of the house; you need to make friends; go out for a sport; what’s wrong with you?!” They did a great job at making me feel horrible as the black sheep of a social family.

By my early 20s when I left home I was a mess and always berated myself for often staying home. Oh how I beat myself up for that.

Eventually and to this day I got into therapy to address this. And to this day it’s still a challenge. I’m still somewhat of a homebody... but I’ve learned not to beat myself up over it. This is just the way I was wired. I do have a small circle of friends. And the rare times I leave the house to socialize with them, it’s usually one on one. On the flip side if I’m invited to a party, I kindly decline as it’s too overwhelming for me.

Anyway what I’m trying to get at is there is absolutely nothing wrong with your son. He has social anxiety... somewhat similar to mine. Therapy has helped over the years.

There are therapists out there that special working with teens with social anxiety that are quite compassionate. Yet it would be up to him if he’s comfortable enough to give therapy a try.

Be gentle with him and show him love.


-MZ ❤️

Hello, I've had social anxiety too but it wasn't until i was 16 or 17 and had no idea what was wrong with me but i missed out on so much in my life before i overcame it many years later. Your son is feeling angry because of the things he'd like to do but can't for fear of exposing his anxiety or any signs of it in front of these kids that he has to face at one time or another. That is a social phobics worst nightmare,but that's exactly what keeps this vicious cycle alive. I was where your son is at now, and i know how it works by years of suffering. There's only ONE WAY OUT of this cycle, he will have to truly understand that it is all the "avoiding" and the "fear of showing any signs " of being uncomfortable with how he's feeling around his schoolmates or anyone. At 13 years old, it's going to be easier said than done. It took me to realize that by caring so deeply about what other people thought or said about me meant ( that i was putting EVERYONE ELSE'S opinions of me, ABOVE my own opinion about MYSELF). I got angry over the "idea" of having to appear "perfect" in front of others. I got SO TIRED of running, hiding, dodging everybody that i finally realized that THESE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SEE ME FOR WHO and WHAT I AM!! PERIOD! If i had to sweat, shake, stutter, blush, front of whomever, then that's how it HAD TO BE IN ORDER FOR ME TO BEAT THIS ILLNESS . and that is the ONLY WAY besides expensive CBT therapy, will he be able to overcome this awful thing. It will take a huge amount of self confidence and LOVE OF HIMSELF OVER ALL who might judge him. This is something that you will have to CONSTANTLY remind him of, and work on building his confidence with himself always,. EVERY DAY until he is totally ACCEPTING of every and all his imperfections, and doesn't care anymore what ANYONE thinks about him, because he is STRONGER than this illness. I wish you and your son the best.

Oh my. I am 19 and I am the same story. The good thing is you know your son has this problem. My mother didnt know that I had an issue until I told her about 2 years ago. I went to a large high school it was not fun to walk through so many people everyday.

I dont have a fix becuase Im still dealing with mine but some things that have helped me are...

Listening to music (especially in public places helps me calm down)

Joining one of these anonymous online chat things

If he is willing and it is possible maybe a therapist (but if he doesnt want to go dont try to make him). I got one last year after a couple failed attempts and once you find the right person to talk to it can be really helpful.

Maybe try not to get mad at him if he doesnt want to go (not saying u already do) but instead be sympathetic towards him.

Reward him if he does something to conquer his fears (a simple fast food meal would have motivated me to do anything back then)

I dont know do with the advice what you will I am 19 and dont really know what im talking about haha.

I feel for your son though and hope he gets better. Please feel free to message me at any time if you want any advice or insight on what might be going through his brain since I was at the same point not too long ago.

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