We’ve all experienced the sensation of being apprehensive or uneasy in a social setting. Perhaps you’ve remained silent while meeting new people or developed sweaty hands before giving a large presentation. Public speaking or stepping into a room full of strangers isn’t for everyone, but most individuals can handle it.
The stress of these circumstances is too much for those who have a social anxiety disorder, often known as social phobia. For example, you may avoid social interaction because things that most people consider “normal,” such as small conversation and eye contact, make you feel uncomfortable. All elements of your life, not just social ones, might begin to unravel.
In the United States, around 5.3 million people suffer from a social anxiety disorder or social phobia. It often begins between the ages of 11 and 19 – the adolescent years. It’s one of the most prevalent mental conditions. Therefore there’s still hope if you have it. The difficult part is asking for help. Here’s how to tell whether your social quiet has progressed beyond shyness and into the need for medical attention.
When Does It Take Place?
Some persons with social anxiety disorder are afraid of only one or two situations, such as speaking in public or starting a conversation. Others are extremely nervous and fearful of any social situation.
Anyone suffering from a social anxiety disorder or social phobia might experience it in a variety of ways. However, here are some frequent circumstances that people encounter:
- Conversing with strangers
- Public speaking
- Making direct eye contact
- Getting into rooms
- Making use of public restrooms
- Attending parties
- Eating in front of others
- Attending classes or working
- Conversation starters
Some of these scenarios may not be an issue for you. Giving a speech, for example, may be simple, but attending a party may be a nightmare. You could excel in one-on-one talks but struggle in a packed classroom.
Everyone who is socially apprehensive has varied reasons for dreading specific situations. However, there is a widespread dread of:
- In social contexts, being assessed or observed by others
- Being embarrassed or ashamed and displaying it by flushing, sweating, or shaking
- Inadvertently insulting someone
- Being the focus of attention
Again, everyone’s experiencing social phobia may differ, but if you have social anxiety and are in a difficult situation, you may feel:
- In social circumstances, he is extremely self-conscious.
- Fear of being evaluated by others is constant, strong, and chronic
- Shy and uneasy when being observed (giving a presentation, talking in a group)
- Reluctant to interact with people
- The importance of avoiding eye contact
You may also have bodily symptoms such as:
- A fast heartbeat
- Muscle tenseness
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Diarrhea and stomach pain
- Inability to take a deep breath
- An “out-of-body” experience
You may have symptoms and get apprehensive just before an event or worry about it for weeks. You may then waste a lot of time and mental energy thinking about how you behaved.
What Is the Root Cause?
There is no one cause of social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Genetics most definitely plays a role: if you have a family member who suffers from social anxiety, you are more likely to get it as well. It may also be related to an overactive amygdala, which is a part of the brain that governs your fear response.
Social anxiety disorder commonly appears around the age of 13. It is associated with a history of maltreatment, bullying, or taunting. Shy children, as well as children with domineering or authoritarian parents, are more prone to develop social anxiety than adults. If you have a medical problem that draws attention to your look or voice, this may also cause social anxiety.
You can’t live your life because you have a social anxiety disorder or social phobia. You will avoid circumstances that the majority of people consider “normal.” You could even be perplexed as to how others can handle things so simply.
It has an impact on your personal connections when you avoid all or most social interactions. It may also result in the following:
- Self-esteem issues
- Negative emotions
- Criticism sensitivity
- Inadequate social skills that do not develop
You may require treatment if your social anxiety prevents you from doing activities you want or need to do or from developing or retaining friends.
Discuss your thoughts and concerns with a doctor or therapist who has treated people with social anxiety disorder. They will be able to determine if you have typical social anxiety or whether you require therapy.
What Is the Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia?
The two most effective treatments for social anxiety disorder are prescription medication and behavioral therapy. You could get both at the same time. Here are some specifics on each:
Medications: Taking a prescription medicine can be a simple and successful therapy for social anxiety disorder for some people. The medications function by alleviating unpleasant and frequently humiliating symptoms. Medication can sometimes significantly lessen or even eliminate your symptoms. Some people may not respond to a certain drug, while others may not be treated at all. There is no way to anticipate whether or not a drug will benefit you. Sometimes you have to test a few before you discover one that works.
Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, and Effexor have all been licensed by the FDA to treat social anxiety disorder. Although these are the only drugs expressly authorized for the illness, additional medications may also be used effectively.
The benefit of drugs is that they may be quite effective while just being taken once a day. However, there are some drawbacks.
For starters, medicine just addresses symptoms. Your symptoms may reappear if you stop taking them. Second, some people get negative side effects from anti-anxiety drugs. They may include a headache, stomachache, nausea, and difficulty sleeping.
Furthermore, all FDA-approved drugs for social anxiety disorder, as well as all pharmaceuticals used to treat depression, have a warning from the FDA. According to the FDA, the drugs may induce or aggravate suicidal thoughts or actions in young persons under the age of 24. As a result, youths who take these medications should be regularly watched for changes in suicidal thoughts.
For many people, the benefits of drugs exceed the drawbacks. You and your doctor must assess your options.
If you are taking medication for social anxiety disorder, contact your doctor right away if you have any adverse effects, such as feeling sad and depressed. Also, never discontinue any anxiety medication without first consulting your doctor. Stopping an anxiety medication abruptly might have major consequences.
Behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapy with a skilled therapist can assist you in identifying and changing the thoughts that cause you to feel uncomfortable in social situations.
Exposure treatment, a kind of behavioral therapy, is widely used to treat social anxiety disorder. Exposure therapy works by progressively exposing you to difficult social settings and waiting for you to become comfortable. During this process, your brain learns that a social scene you were terrified of is not that horrible.
Most exposure therapists start with minor exposures to uncomfortable conditions and progress to more difficult exposures once you feel comfortable. The benefit of this therapy is that it addresses the underlying issue rather than simply the symptoms of social anxiety disorder. As a result, if you discontinue behavioral therapy, the likelihood of your symptoms returning is reduced.
It is critical to understand that you are not odd if you suffer from social anxiety. It is widespread. Discuss therapy options with your doctor if you experience exceptionally high anxiety and fear of social settings. Untreated social anxiety disorder or social phobia can lead to depression, drug or alcohol issues, school or job troubles, and low quality of life. If you liked this post, you may also like our blog on funniest phobias and fears people have. Don’t forget to share your comments below.