Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder is a common type of disorder in which people have a fear of social settings. It is also referred to as social phobia. People with this disorder are not able to initiate conversation or they avoid it, they are having troubles in attending social gatherings and meeting new people. They have a fear that they will be judged or rejected by other people. Although they may know that their fear is irrational, they feel powerless and are not able to overcome it on their own. It is persistent and exhaustive in nature. Social anxiety disorder can affect the person’s ability at school, work or in forming new relationships outside their family.

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder

Emotional and behavioral symptoms 

  • Persistent fear of situations because the person thinks that they may be judged.
  • They worry about embarrassment.
  • They have an intense fear of interacting with strangers.
  • They have a fear that others will notice about your anxious behavior.
  • Avoid talking to people.
  • Avoid situations in which you may be the center of attraction.
  • Have anxiety in expectation of a feared event.
  • Spend time after a social interaction and focus on your performance in order to try your own flaws.
  • May expect worse consequences before going into a social situation.

Physical  symptoms 

  • There is blushing or may be sweating and trembling especially when you are in public.
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling that your mind has gone blank
  • Muscle tension

Avoiding common social situations

  • Attending parties or social gatherings
  • Going to work or school
  • Making eye contact
  • Dating
  • Interacting with unfamiliar people or strangers
  • Eating in front of others
  • Using a public restroom
  • Entering a room in which people are already seated
  • Returning items to a store

Myths & Facts about Social Anxiety

Myth 1: Social Anxiety is Merely Getting  Nervous

Fact: It is a fact that social anxiety is associated  with a variety of symptoms and this can include a feeling of nervousness. If you are suffering from social anxiety you may experience cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral problems when you are in the social situation that is affecting you.

Myth 2: Social Anxiety is a Common Problem That You Have to Live With

Fact: It is a fact that social anxiety can become so intense that some people cannot work or even leave the house. Some people who suffer with social anxiety can function well in general and it is just a specific fear that gets in the way. Social anxiety is not a situation that someone has to live with. With effective treatment such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy(CBT)/Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT) or medication, social anxiety can be overcome. Everyone has the potential to live their life free from fear.

Myth 3: Is Social Anxiety the Same as Shyness?

Fact: The fact is that social anxiety and shyness may appear  similar, however they are not the same thing. Social anxiety involves feelings of being fearful about social situations but it doesn’t always involve withdrawing from these situations. Some people might appear to be outgoing but are very good at hiding their inner feelings of anxiousness. Whereas people who are shy will tend to withdraw from social situations. People who are shy always experience social anxiety, but those who have social anxiety don’t always appear to be shy.

Myth 4: Social Anxiety Isn’t That Common

Fact: The fact is that social anxiety is experienced by most people at some point in their life. It may have been when giving a presentation in school, or a speech at work as an adult, or when meeting someone for the first time, everyone gets that feeling of butterflies once in a while. It is actually believed that between 2% and 13% of the population is thought to have social anxiety to the point that it would be considered a disorder.

Myth 5: Social Anxiety  Refers Only to Fears for  Public Speaking

Fact: In fact, social anxiety refers to being anxious in a variety of different social and performance situations. These may include formal events such as public performance  and public speaking. It can also include informal social interaction  such as attending parties or  meeting strangers or going to difficult situations such as confrontation or disagreements. It can even include everyday events like eating in front of others. A common point of concern  among each of these triggers is that there is the potential of being judged or evaluated by others and that causes social anxiety.

Myth 6: Social Anxiety Can’t Hurt You

Fact: It is true that social anxiety can cause significant impairments in life. Research has shown people with social anxiety may earn less, are less likely to gain a degree and are less likely to be in a professional role. Social anxiety can also cause reduced productivity at work, affect personal relationships, cause high levels of suicidal thoughts and a higher use of health care services. Social anxiety disorder can also be related to other mental health issues

How do you know you need counseling/Therapy? 

One can find out if the need counseling or therapy by checking the following points:

  • You want to bring a change, but you’re unable to do so on your own, you might want to seek counseling.
  • You’re experiencing disturbances which impact your day-to-day life like work, social engagement etc.
  • You are avoiding social gatherings, interviews or parties.
  • You’re experiencing disturbances which impact your overall wellbeing.
  • You’re experiencing emotions on the extremes. For example you’re either too happy or too angry.
  • You have a difficult time understanding your emotions or in making sense of what is going on around you.
  • Feeling disconnected from yourself and your loved ones.

Role of counseling & Therapy  in overcoming Social anxiety disorder

Therapists who specialize in social anxiety disorders can help you immensely in recovering from social anxiety. These professionals are skilled in addressing these issues. They can help you manage your emotions and feelings in social situations through cognitive restructuring, and behavior modification. They also engage in therapeutic interventions like group therapies where they are encouraged to understand themselves in a much better way and they are able to relate themselves with the other people also. This will help in alleviating social anxiety in them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • If you think your social anxiety is interfering in your life, it is best to contact a counselor/therapist who specializes in social anxiety disorder. However, if you think it is social anxiety that you can overcome on your own, you can start with understanding that social anxiety is not your fault. Try focusing on developing a positive self of you, side by side develop love toward yourself and start caring for yourself. You can also start with starting what you feel and the thoughts you are getting.
  • Social anxiety disorder is a mental disorder identified in the DSM 5.
  • Social anxiety can be caused due to a number of reasons. If you have a family history of social anxiety, it’s likely that you might develop the same. There are other causes too like bullying, sexual abuse, some kind of physical abnormalities or chemical imbalance in the brain. Studies suggest that past experiences and environment plays a major role in social anxiety.
  • You cannot take medication for social anxiety disorder without the consultation of a psychiatrist. It is unprofessional and ethically wrong for us to disclose any medication in this manner. You can consult with one of our professionals. Moreover, medication is only effective in the long term if coupled with effective psychotherapy.


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