If you find yourself feeling nervous in social settings, it is completely normal. If you find yourself crippled with anxiety and embarrassment because you fear being judged negatively by others, you may be dealing with social anxiety. Social anxiety can add hardships to your relationships, work, daily routines, or other activities.
Social anxiety is an anxiety disorder that can become a chronic mental health condition. It causes an intense fear of social situations. It can cause you to fear going to work, attending school and other everyday activities. It may cause you to avoid places or events due to the distress it causes you. It can also affect how you perform during social interactions such as giving a speech, giving a musical performance, or competing in a sporting event.
Without treatment, social anxiety can become a chronic disorder that can severely affect your activities and interactions. Social anxiety happens more frequently in females than males. It also occurs more frequently in adolescent and young adult females.
Social anxiety affects up to 10% of people across the globe. It’s the third most common mental health condition behind depression and substance abuse. Signs and symptoms of this common mental health issue can include:
● Feeling nervous to the point of becoming nauseated.
● Avoiding prolonged eye contact with social peers.
● Having a stiff posture when you are in social situations.
● Having an increased heart rate in social situations.
● Experiencing blushing, sweating or shaking in social situations.
● Feeling very self-conscious in social situations.
● Feeling awkward or embarrassed in social situations.
● Avoiding locations where there could be a lot of people.
● Feeling overwhelming feelings of being judged negatively or being rejected by people you interact with.
● Not knowing what to say to people in social situations.
● Avoiding making or taking phone calls.
● Experiencing panic attacks when in social situations.
● Feeling the need to consume alcohol or other substances to gain the confidence to face social situations.
● Blending into the background when in social situations.
Social anxiety in children can present slightly differently than in adults. Signs in children can include:
● Throwing tantrums.
● Clinging to a parent or caregiver.
● Not speaking in social situations.
● Not asking for help when needing it.
Social anxiety can be the result of a number of factors. This mental health condition often starts early in life but can occur at any age. Possible causes of this condition can include:
● Genetics — Anxiety can run in families. If there is someone in your immediate family who has an anxiety disorder, it can be likely you also have inherited the genetic disposition.
● Stressful or traumatic events — Abuse, violence, illness, bullying, humiliation, or the death of a loved one can all increase the risk of you developing a social anxiety disorder.
● Parenting style — If your parents were overprotective or overbearing, this could cause you to develop social anxiety due to the fear of not measuring up to perceived expectations.
Social anxiety is a treatable condition, however, if left untreated, it can cause risks. Your condition can spiral and drastically affect your life. Risks of this untreated mental health condition can include:
● Work issues.
● Loss of relationships.
● Reduced quality of life.
● Lack of support.
● Increased risk of suicidal ideation.
● Substance abuse.
While some anxiety in social situations can be normal, social anxiety intensely affects your daily life and lasts for at least six months. A mental health professional or physician will ask you about your medical history. A physician may also do a physical exam to rule out any other possible causes. Once you have a diagnosis of social anxiety, you can then seek treatment to help.
This condition can be treated with the help of a therapist. There are ways you can also help manage your condition in addition to therapy support. Treatments for this mental health condition can include:
● Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — CBT is commonly used to help treat anxiety. With the help of a therapist, you learn to reframe the way you think, behave, and react to social situations. CBT is considered the gold standard for psychotherapy and is a research-supported technique.
● Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) — ACT takes a slightly different approach than CBT and uses mindfulness and goal setting to help reduce your anxiety.
● Medication — Depending on the severity of your social anxiety, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to help you with the physical symptoms you experience. Different types of medications used to help treat this condition include antidepressants, beta-blockers and anti-anxiety medications. There can be side effects of taking any medication and you should discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare provider before beginning or discontinuing any medications.
● Journaling — Keeping a journal can help you keep track of possible triggers and how you react to these triggers. It can also be beneficial to get your feelings out on paper to help you feel better.
If you believe you may have social anxiety, you can reach out to your healthcare provider or a therapist. You can begin to take control back of your life from your social anxiety. You don’t have to go through life alone.Book your complimentary consultation today and start living the life you always dreamed of.