Most people feel nervous or shy in some social situations. The majority of us manage to get through these uncomfortable moments unscathed. People with social phobia (or social anxiety disorder, as it is sometimes called), however, worry about future social events for weeks before they happen. The strong and irrational fear of being judged by others or of being embarrassed impairs the ability to function in at least some parts of daily life. Social phobia sometimes runs in families and often starts during childhood.
A mental health professional can be helpful in coping with both normal feelings of social anxiety and social phobia that gets in the way of your life. While the exact causes of social phobia vary from person to person, a therapist can work with you to identify possible triggers.