There are several different possible causes for social anxiety:

Learned Behavior

One explanation for social anxiety may be based in the environment of a child as they develop. As we grow, we learn about how to interact with the world by observing those around us, and if an individual is surrounded by socially anxious people while they are developing, it is possible that they will learn to act this way as well.

Traumatic Event

If a person experiences a traumatic event in public or at the hands of a group of people, this may make them nervous or anxious in similar situations because they are fearful of another traumatic event. Suffering extreme embarrassment, especially at an early age, could make an individual socially anxious.

Interruption in Development

Different stages of a child’s overall development are associated with different phases of social development. Babies will develop a fear of strangers at or after seven months, but not before then. Children between the ages of six and eight do not like to be alone, but this changes at adolescence as teenagers begin to enjoy time on their own. If something happens to disrupt the normal progression of these phases, a disruption in social learning may occur as well.


Scientists are studying the idea that increased sensitivity to disapproval may be based in an individual’s physiology or hormonal balance.


The child of socially anxious parents is at increased risk of social anxiety. While this may be because of environmental factors, it also points to a possible link between heredity and the development of social anxiety.

Chemical Imbalance

It is possible that those who suffer with social anxiety have an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that help regulate the anxiety response.

Social anxiety is most likely caused by a combination of factors, which is why it is important to investigate different treatment options to find what works best on an individual basis.

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