What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Have you ever been uncomfortable in a social situation and felt an urgency to seek solitude? This experience is more common than you may expect, affecting approximately 15 million adults across the nation. Living with social anxiety can make simple situations seem overwhelming, causing individuals to pass up job offers, new hobbies, potential relationships and other positive opportunities in life.

Feelings of embarrassment, being judged negatively, and overall fear make it tempting to avoid public outings altogether and even to go into temporary isolation. Luckily, there is hope in gaining knowledge about this condition in order to recover from its haunting side effects.

Understanding Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is defined as a mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. Symptoms of social anxiety can be so extreme that they wreak havoc on an individual’s life without proper treatment and coping mechanisms. Fears of rejection and judgement play a strong role in disrupting daily routines, deepening the problem. Performance at work or school can suffer. Relationships with family members and coworkers may also be stressed as a result of this disorder due to lack of quality time spent together.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety

Individuals who suffer from social anxiety often times experience severe physical and emotional symptoms. Increased heart rate, sweating, stuttering, fidgeting, shyness, and other nervous ticks are just a few symptoms which may be linked to a social phobia. It is important to diagnose this disorder as early as possible to combat the symptoms so that individuals can return to their normal lives and improve their quality of life.

Common symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Nausea and upset stomach
  • Uncontrollable sweating
  • General discomfort in social situations
  • Irrational worries and fears of judgment
  • Self-consciousness
  • Labored breathing and the feeling of not being able to breathe
  • Full blown panic attacks

Living with Social Anxiety

Individuals who suffer from social anxiety often have difficulty with the following situations:

  • Being introduced to new people
  • Being in a situation where they are the center of attention (birthday parties, promotional work events, etc.)
  • Meeting and interacting with authoritative figures
  • Most social encounters, especially with strangers
  • Interpersonal relationships, whether friendships or romantic

Helpful Coping Mechanisms for Social Anxiety

Professional help and proper treatment can assist individuals suffering from social anxiety. Recognizing the difference between anxiety and reality through educating yourself on what anxiety truly is will aid in recovery. Another good coping mechanism is to practice refocusing your attention on positive attributes of the situation as well as on more external than internal factors. Instead of focusing on the visible signs of anxiety, bring your attention back to the conversation at hand to become more present and calm down. If all else fails, politely excuse yourself and take a moment to regroup.

Seeking help for social anxiety is a great first step for self-healing. Advantage Mental Health Center is a great resource for gaining the tools and support you need to make progressive changes in your life no matter how small. Highly trained counselors offer many treatments for those that suffer from social anxiety. Choosing the right treatment for you is a personal decision that should be discussed with a mental health professional.

If you or someone you know suffers from social anxiety, get help today. Click here to schedule an appointment.