Social anxiety is a specific type of anxiety disorder in which you’re nervous about being in social situations. You have a social phobia, and there are difficult thoughts and feelings affiliated with attending social events such as work events, birthday parties, or even out with a group of friends.
It can be challenging to deal with social anxiety on a regular basis, and it’s important to know the symptoms of social anxiety so that you can address the issue and get the help you need, which might include CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
So, what is social anxiety or social anxiety disorder? Social Anxiety Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by the fear of social situations, and it causes significant distress in an individual; sometimes, it causes so much distress that they can’t function in their daily life. Many people with social anxiety find that their symptoms are triggered by thoughts of being judged by people around them, such as coworkers, peers, or friends.
The symptoms of social anxiety can overlap with those of other anxiety disorders, such as GAD or panic disorder. The key difference between social anxiety and other mental health issues is that there is a marked disinterest in being around people. A person with social anxiety is scared to engage in events where there will be others around because of the fear of embarrassment.
There are a variety of reasons why an individual with social anxiety will shy away from parties or events, or even from hanging out with friends. Let’s talk about the symptoms of this mental health condition. There are both mental and physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.
These symptoms include but aren’t limited to:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in chest
- Panic attacks
Many times, a person with social anxiety is afraid of being judged. It can be intimidating to be around people when you’re worried about how they’ll be perceived by others; especially if the stakes are high and the event is important to them.
They worry about being embarrassed or humiliated. They might be scared that they’ll be the center of attention, that all eyes will be on them and that they’ll say or do the wrong thing.
They might catastrophize or anticipate the worst. They may avoid parties, making eye contact with people, rooms, or events with a lot of people involved, confrontation, and they might even avoid eating in front of people.
Signs Of Social Anxiety
Those with social anxiety will often engage in avoidant behavior. For example, they may avoid situations where they fear getting embarrassed. If a friend asks them to do something, they might say no out of the fear of making a fool out of themselves. Social anxiety can lead to missing out on important life events and even daily ventures such as attending work or school.
Some people who have social anxiety rely on substances to help them cope with their social phobia. If a person with social anxiety goes to an event, they might drink alcohol so that they can relax and talk to other people. This can lead to substance use disorder, which is one of the many reasons that it’s important to get to the root cause of your social anxiety and talk to someone about it.
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One of the causes of social anxiety is genetics. If anxiety disorders run in your family, you may be predisposed to it. Brain chemistry can indicate whether you’ll be at risk for social anxiety; if you have an overactive amygdala, it can cause a person to have heightened general anxiety or social anxiety. Environmental causes are also prevalent.
People with social anxiety may develop it as a learned behavior. For example, they might have extremely overprotective or overbearing parents, and that causes them to develop it. Bullying may also be a risk factor.
Anxiety In Social Situations
It’s normal to feel anxious from time to time. Many people experience anxiety before major events in their lives. They may feel anxious before meeting for a first date or giving a speech. Social anxiety disorder is different. Social anxiety disorder affects people to a greater extent and can hinder your ability to manage your everyday commitments or engagements.
It’s essential to get treatment for social anxiety; especially if you find that it’s affecting your quality of life. The first line of treatment for social anxiety is usually therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used forms of therapy for social anxiety.
CBT is effective in treating social anxiety because it changes an individual’s thought patterns surrounding themselves and the world around them. In addition to therapy, medication such as SSRI’s and SNRI’s can be extremely helpful for people with social anxiety. It’s important to get treatment for social anxiety. See a mental health professional if your symptoms are causing you distress.
If you struggle with social anxiety, you’re not alone. Every year, one in five people in Canada personally experience living with a mental health condition. It’s estimated that 11.6% of adults in Canada have an anxiety or mood disorder. Mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder sometimes co-occur with anxiety disorders, but the good news is that all of these conditions are treatable.
Seeing A Medical Professional Or Doctor
It’s vital to see your doctor if social anxiety is affecting your quality of life. Seeking treatment for social anxiety is vital so that your quality of life can improve and you can manage your mental health. Don’t wait if social anxiety is making it hard for you to live your life to the fullest. You deserve to be social and not feel anxious on a regular basis. Your mental health matters.
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