Social Anxiety Disorder
Social phobia, another name for social anxiety disorder, is one of the most common anxiety disorders. This is a fear of being humiliated or embarrassed when in public or when expected to perform in a crowd. This anxiety is more intense than the common anxiety that most individuals feel in public.
Usually, it’s so bad that you want to avoid the situation completely. Some people with social anxiety, meanwhile, are still able to handle social situations with little discomfort. Usually, you worry that people would think you’re foolish, crazy, or weak. You are aware that your worry is excessive in given circumstances.
The most common social phobia is the fear of public speaking. It has an impact on presenters, performers, students, and anyone who must give presentations in a crowd. The fear of speaking in front of groups of people affects many people. It affects both men and women equally.
Other social phobias that are common include
- Fear of embarrassing yourself in public
- Fear of eating in public, choking, or spilling food
- Fear of being observed at work
- Fear of using public toilets
- Fear of signing or writing documents in front of others
- Fear of crowds
- Fear of being examined
Social anxiety may be less noticeable. It could include a fear of any social occasions or settings where you feel like you might be judged or observed. When your anxiety about social situations is extensive, you have generalized social phobia. This entails the ability to start a conversation, take part in small groups, interact with people in positions of power, or go to events.
Irregular heartbeats, vomiting, blushing, and trembling are a few signs of social anxiety disorder. Alcohol is used by people who are socially anxious but are unaware of it to treat their symptoms.
Even while social anxiety is common, a diagnosis of social phobia would only be made if you avoided social occasions, your job, or other crucial relationships, or if it significantly affected your life.
Panic attacks can also accompany social phobia, but they typically stem from feelings of embarrassment or humiliation rather than being trapped or confined.
More people experience a social phobia than panic attacks. It frequently happens between the ages of eleven and nineteen and can start to manifest in late childhood or adolescence.
When shy kids are subjected to greater peer pressure at school, these phobias are frequently observed in them. Without therapy, these phobias can remain throughout adolescence, early adulthood, and later in life.
Recent studies indicate that 3 to 7 percent of Americans struggle with social anxiety. It might affect more women than men. Up to 14% of adults may experience social anxiety at some point. Social anxiety disorder is twice as common in women as in males. Men are more likely than women to seek treatment, though.
Many patients who have social anxiety disorder also have other anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, or they are clinically depressed.
The causes of a social anxiety disorder include both hereditary and environmental factors, just like those of other anxiety disorders. If one identical twin experiences the issue, the other twin is 30 to 50% more likely to experience the issue.
Causes of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder occasionally runs in families. Nobody is aware of the cause, though, for certain family members. Researchers found that a number of brain areas are associated with anxiety and fear.
Researchers believe that social anxiety can be caused by misreading others’ behavior. You may believe that people stare at you or frown at you, but they aren’t.
Any social circumstance might cause anxiety. Others get anxious in social settings like speaking to strangers, going to parties, or giving a performance in front of an audience. These are some typical social anxiety triggers:
- Public speaking
- Meet new people
- Participating in parties and other social events
- Go on a date
- Perform on stage
- Being at the center of attention
- Talking to “important” people and authority figures
- Speaking and giving presentations in a meeting
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
The mere fact that you occasionally become tense in social settings does not indicate that you suffer from a social anxiety disorder or social phobia. Many people experience shyness or self-consciousness occasionally, but it doesn’t interfere with their daily functioning. On the other side, social anxiety disorder disrupts your daily activities and results in severe distress.
For instance, it is perfectly normal to feel nervous before speaking. However, if you suffer from social anxiety, you can worry for weeks in advance, seek help right away, or start stammering so badly during the speech that you find it difficult to speak.
Emotional Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
- Excessive anxiety and self-consciousness in everyday social settings
- Worry intensely for days, weeks, or even months in advance of an upcoming social situation
- Extreme anxiety about being observed or judged by others, especially those you don’t know
- Fear that you’ll behave in a way that may embarrass or degrade oneself
- Anxiety that others may discover you are unstable
- Discolored or blushing skin
- Shortness of breath
- Upset Stomach, Nausea
- Shaking or trembling
- Racing heart or chest tightness
- Sweating or hot flushes
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Avoiding social situations to the point where it restricts your activities or interrupts your life
- Staying quiet or blending into the background to avoid detection and embarrassment
- Everywhere you travel, you should always bring a friend with you.
- drinking beforehand to calm your anxieties before social settings
Whom Does It Affect?
One of the most common types of anxiety disorders and one of the most widespread mental illnesses is a social anxiety disorder. About 8% of people will experience symptoms of social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
Social anxiety disorder can last for a long period without treatment. Unfortunately, a lot of people never seek assistance for social anxiety disorder. There are some groups of persons who are more likely to experience social anxiety disorder:
Social anxiety typically begins in childhood or adolescence, usually around the age of 13. A doctor can identify social phobia in a patient if they have experienced symptoms for at least six months.
Social phobia can endure for many years or a lifetime without treatment. The majority of those who suffer from social anxiety disorder claim that their symptoms began before the age of 18.
Women are more likely than men to experience a social anxiety disorder. Many people with a social anxiety disorder also have depression, bipolar disorder, bulimia nervosa (an eating disorder), and substance use disorders. But social anxiety seems to develop earlier than other mental diseases.
Treatments for Social Anxiety Disorder
All of the following therapies are now used to treat social anxiety:
Deep relaxation techniques and abdominal breathing are used on a regular basis in order to reduce anxiety symptoms.
It is important to confront anxious thoughts with more sensible ones in order to overcome social phobias. The belief that “I’ll look foolish if I speak up” would be replaced with “It’s alright to be awkward at first because most people won’t bother” would take its place.
Cognitive therapists frequently concentrate on three distinct categories of cognitive distortions: an excessive focus on anxiety symptoms and how they might come across to others, distortions in self-concept about your social attractiveness, and a propensity to overestimate the likelihood of a negative evaluation.
The act of progressively and incrementally facing the social situation or situations you are afraid of is known as exposure. This might be done first through visuals and then in the real world.
If public speaking causes your anxiety, you can start by speaking briefly to a friend. Increase your speech and expand your audience. If you have trouble speaking out in front of a group, you can progressively lengthen your speech and disclose more of your comments.
You would analyze and counter any irrational beliefs that contributed to anxiety after each exposure. Although social phobia can be treated individually, group therapy is the most effective treatment option. This enables direct exposure to the circumstances and stimuli that initially cause anxiety.
Staying on Task
People who have social anxiety disorders frequently scrutinize their own performance or the reactions of others when speaking in public. You must practice maintaining your attention on the task at hand as part of the treatment. Speaking with a boss, delivering lectures to students, or engaging in social interaction are all examples of this.
As an addition to the general cognitive and exposure-based therapies, SSRI drugs like Zoloft, Luvox, Cymbalta, or Lexapro, or low dosages of benzodiazepine tranquilizers like Xanax or Klonopin, may be used. Social anxiety is occasionally successfully treated with MAO-inhibitor drugs like Nardil or Parnate.
Social Skills Training
Social phobia can be treated by learning basic social skills like smiling, making eye contact, listening, self-disclosure, and active listening.
Treatment plans frequently involve training in assertiveness, which is the capacity to ask directly for what you want or to say no to what you don’t.