It is quite normal to get confused and stressed about any social interaction such as giving a presentation or meeting someone authoritative. But social anxiety is totally different from a normal response. Continue reading if you want to know more about social anxiety.
Anxiety! What is that?
Before knowing what social anxiety is, we have to be clear in our concept about the word “Anxiety”. So, anxiety is a condition of uneasiness, nervousness. It is our response to stress or reaction to a situation perceived dangerous. Stress about anything can lead to anxiety such work, deadlines, financial issues etc. It may also happen due to side effects of medicines.
It is totally different from the typical stress and worry. Usually when the stressor is removed a person comes back to normal but anxiety is not like that. Anxiety may keep you away from doing stuff that you want to do or you are very good at. This may create a situation of lacking self-confidence. In USA 18.1% or 40 million adults older than 18 suffer from anxiety each year.
The good thing is it is treatable. With proper care and medication, you can bounce back to normal life. Following are the types of anxiety:
- Social anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
Now that we know what is anxiety let’s move onto social anxiety.
What is social anxiety?
Having social anxiety creates an uneasy feeling around people or fear of facing or meeting new people. A person with social anxiety can feel embarrassed, confused, nervous, and fearful, even after repeated interaction with the same person; this is not normal and it should be addressed as soon as possible by speaking with your mental health care provider.
Fear and uneasiness
Social anxiety is associated with fears that are so powerful that they reduce the capability of being creative. It sets a lot of fears in victims’ minds that they stop talking about their nervousness, they avoid meeting new people, they don’t go in social gatherings and they even stop sharing what they think and want to do. They may think that their fears are just like water bubbles but they feel helpless in overcoming them.
For normal people it is so simple to say that somebody has a social anxiety disorder, but these kinds of fears about being examined by other people are so overwhelming that they hamper their daily life.
Social anxiety is a common but chronic mental disorder affecting major population throughout the world. It affects a lot of people including children and teenagers. 7% or 15 million adults suffer from social anxiety in America.
Like many other mental disorders, it may arise due to environmental factors. Generally, onset of social anxiety starts in childhood. The child may go through variety of experiences that triggers the development of social anxiety.
Studies suggests that any type of abuse such as emotional, sexual or physical abuse can cause social anxiety. When a child is ridiculed, embarrassed, humiliated, bullied, or teased he is more likely to develop social anxiety in adulthood. Other negative situation in early life can also lead to social anxiety. These situations include family issues, divorce, death of primary caregiver, less or no affection by parents. The signs may start developing in late childhood and become fully visible in adulthood. Due to the traumatic past a minor gesture during a social situation can provoke stress response from the social anxiety person.
Here are some other possible causes of social anxiety:
- Hereditary issues
- Abnormality in amygdala functionality
The other terrible thing about social anxiety is that it is often persistent, lasting for 6 months or more. For some people that initial anxiety is high, and stays high over time. For such people, the nervousness of being judged wrong by new people might be so discouraging that it may affect their capability to do their work fairly. That nervousness may increase day by day even after having everyday interactions.
Having interaction with something new can show physical and psychological symptoms
Physical symptoms include:
- Shyness or blushing
- Stomach cramping
- Increased heartbeat
- Unusual sweating
- Body shivering or shaking
- Difficulty in talking
Psychological symptoms include:
- Biting nails
- Avoiding gatherings or crowds
- Worrying about negative events or situations that happened to you in the past
- Thinking about uncertain outcomes
- In need of something to calm nerves, like drugs.
Not all of the above symptoms develop in a person suffering from social anxiety. People suffering from social anxiety may have all or some selective symptoms from the above mentioned.
What it feels like to be social anxiety person?
It is a constant battle with your mind. Your mind doesn’t stop exaggerating and overthinking. This leads an already fearful person to get more scared. The fear of disapproval from others is so powerful that it numbs all the senses. The person fears that everyone in the room is watching, examining him. He constantly feels and fears that he is being judged and he is destined to fail. They think that they are not good enough to face people or talk to them. This fearful feeling becomes a nightmare if a social anxiety person has to converse or meet an authoritative person. He would instantly get intimidated and would feel unworthy. Such people are always self-criticizing and worrying.
No social situation or gathering go good for them. As a result the person gets socially awkward and under confident. Not only this, he becomes a slave to this illness due to the fears. It is a very lonely and helpless condition.
Prevention & Treatments:
As this can disrupt your life badly, so social anxiety disorder needs to be prevented as well as treated as soon as possible.
Face your fears
For prevention, it is better to face all the fears that are disrupting your normal living. But if by doing this, you are having more trouble then you must avoid social interactions for a short period.
Enjoy good company
It is better to have few good and genuine friends instead of bullies and double faced people who know nothing except of hurting and belittling you.
Say no to peer pressure
This the biggest problem that leads to social anxiety. You must know that you don’t need to get intimidated by others.be what you are, it the most beautiful version of yourself.
Remind yourself again and again that you are strong, capable, beautiful and there is nothing that you cannot do.
It is highly treatable but the dilemma is that in USA only 36.9% get treatment. Results of treatment vary according to the severity of illness and nature of a person. Some people get treated by only one method but some need more than one treatment
Practice healthy activities
Try to meditate daily. Practice some anxiety-reducing activities daily. Get enough sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Social anxiety can be treated by Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy includes therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, and also some counseling sessions.
There are a lot of medicines available to treat any form of social anxiety. Medications include anti-depressants, mood regulators, beta-blockers, anti-anxiety, and other drugs approved by the FDA for social anxiety treatment. In the US, a Psychologist is trained to help diagnose you with a disorder and treat you with a form of therapy. A psychiatrist can speak with you and diagnose and also prescribe medication. I encourage you to reach out to a licensed professional if you have been dealing with issues for a while or if your symptoms are preventing you from living your best life. It’s time to be honest with yourself and act when it comes to your mental health.
Social anxiety can be so simple that it may diminish after a week. But it needs to be treated properly. If left untreated it can cause wide destruction in someone’s life. So try to practice good habits to avoid it as much as possible. Keep calm, cool and composed in stressful situation. Most importantly consult a doctor. Stay strong, you can do this.
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