Social anxiety, or social phobia, is a marked and persistent of social situations (assemblies, meetings, meals, etc.) or actions (oral presentations, speeches, job interviews, etc.) during which the person is in contact with and/or is exposed to the observation of unfamiliar people.

Anxiety may arise from the fear of behaving inappropriately, embarrassingly or even humiliatingly in these situations, or may relate to the assumed judgement of others towards the individual.

People with the condition recognise the excessive or unreasonable nature of their fear. However, they avoid exposing themselves to social situations that they fear, shunning them.

They generally show hypersensitivity to criticism, low self-esteem with difficulties in showing confidence, a feeling of inferiority. Their social network is reduced and they may continue to live with their family of origin. In the most severe cases, individuals may drop out of school, not seek work or stay unemployed.