Social phobia or Social Anxiety Disorder is not an imagined condition and brings with it strong physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, nausea, sweating and trembling. People who suffer from Social phobia may recognise that their fear is excessive and unreasonable but often feel powerless against their reactions. This disorder can be extremely crippling as those suffering from it may miss out on job opportunities, social networks or romantic relationships as they fear having to having to interact with new and unfamiliar people. Social phobia can disrupt daily routines and interfere with school, work and family life as the person suffering from the disorder avoids going out and being in any social setting that may have the slightest hint of being threatening. Research has shown that sufferers run the risk for developing major depressive disorder and alcohol use disorder.
Social Anxiety Disorder is not merely shyness, though there is a correlation for people who suffer from this disorder to also be extremely shy in childhood. Research has shown that the average onset of this disorder is during the teenage years though many fail to recognise the symptoms nor seek help for 10 years or more.
The signs and symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder would manifest when a person has to either perform in front of others or be around unfamiliar people such as:
- Physical symptoms such as feeling a rapid heart rate, nauseous, trembling, sweating and blushing.
- Behavioural symptoms such as having a rigid posture, avoiding eye contact, inhibited speech and feeling their minds going blank.
- Social withdrawal – Wanting very much to interact in social settings but find it too scary to be with people whom they fear would be judgemental.
There are many reasons why people suffer from social anxiety. Some people have a predisposition toward anxiety as the emotional part of their brain is just more active. For some it could be because of the way they perceive other people’s behavior. There is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. They may read into other people’s body language and behavior and think that others are having negative thoughts about them. For some, it could be due to underdeveloped social skills and fear that their behavior may turn others off. Being in a high stress and demanding environment can also cause social anxiety.
Here is what happens in your brain when you experience social anxiety
Professional help and proper treatment is needed to curb Social phobia from deteriorating to the point where one’s life becomes dysfunctional. However, you may want to try some of the following tips to see if it can help you:
- Understand your anxiety – Pay attention to your behavior in unfamiliar social settings and think about what was going through your mind when you behaved in a certain manner.
- Be objective about your thoughts – Talk to a trusted friend or family member about that thought to get an objective view. Find facts to dismantle your negative thoughts ( Read this about Bad thoughts)
- Replace your negative thoughts and false belief with rational ones.
- In a social setting, pay more attention to other people, what they do and say rather than focus on your own anxiety symptoms.
- Draw up a list of social situations that you fear, chart them on a scale of one to ten. Start by working towards being in a situation that you fear least.
Read about this anime Komi Can’t Communicate about a girl with social anxiety by clicking the image.
Social Anxiety can be a debilitating condition that affects your qualify of life. It would be good to seek help early if you are suffering from this condition.