Anxiety is something that most people experience from time to time. Typical anxiety may show up as nervousness before a test, excitement before a big event, or uneasiness about a new task at work. Although anxiety is a normal response to life events, severe or prolonged symptoms of anxiety can be overwhelming.
There are various types of anxiety conditions including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Other phobias
All anxiety disorders share a combination of similar symptoms. They involve severe, anxious thoughts or beliefs that are either challenging or impossible to control. These thoughts can make a person feel restless, interfering with daily life. There are also physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath, and noticeable changes in behavior.
What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?
One of the most common anxiety conditions is social anxiety disorder. Also referred to as social phobia, it is a mental health condition characterized by persistent fears. These fears may include:
- Worrying that others will notice your physical sensations of anxiety, including blushing, sweating, or stuttering
- Fear of saying something wrong, stupid, or silly and thinking that you will be judged because of it
- Fear of being too quiet or reserved
- Fear of humiliating or embarrassing yourself in front of a group of people or crowd
These fears become especially prominent in social situations, especially when meeting new people, dating, interviewing, or having to ask a question to others. Essentially, a person with social anxiety fears that they will be judged or rejected for who they are.
Signs and Symptoms for Social Anxiety Disorder
When a person with social anxiety disorder has to be around others, common signs and symptoms that might surface include:
- Feelings of nausea or stomach sickness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Excessive sweating
- Having rigid body posture
- Sharing little to no eye contact with others
- Feelings of intense self-consciousness
- Avoiding places where there are other people present
- Struggling to make conversation or talk with others despite wanting to
Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder
Despite how challenging it can be to live with social anxiety, there are many treatment options available to help challenge intrusive and unhelpful thoughts. If you are concerned that you or a loved one is showing signs of social anxiety, contact a mental health professional who can evaluate your symptoms.
One of the leading treatments for this condition is psychotherapy, otherwise known as “talk therapy.” Psychotherapy helps clients to work through, eliminate, and control distressing thought processes and behaviors. Two popular forms of psychotherapy involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT). Both types of therapy focus on teaching a client different, more positive, and practical ways of thinking. DBT takes a similar approach with an emphasis on mindfulness.
Many cases of social anxiety are treated through medication as well. Anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and beta-blockers can help to reduce anxious feelings. Medications are typically used alongside therapy so that the client does not have to depend on their medications for well-being long term.
Tips for Living With Social Anxiety
Here are some general tips for those struggling with social anxiety:
- Practice mindfulness. There are various mindfulness techniques to help you with anxious symptoms anywhere, at any time. These techniques include:
- Mindful breathing: Take a few deep breaths and focus on just your breath for a few minutes.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Working through each muscle in your body and tensing and releasing each muscle, starting from the tip of your head down to your toes. Conscious breathing is essential here.
- Meditation: Take a few minutes to close your eyes and sit quietly with complete and total awareness of your breath and body.
- Ease yourself into social situations. Find comfort in some of your smaller groups, whether that is with close family or friends. As you work through some of your challenging thoughts, notice what people or conversations make you feel comfortable or uneasy. Keep track of these things as you move forward and find yourself in larger gatherings.
- Explore the situations that trigger your anxiety. When you begin to feel fear or anxiety, explore these sensations from a place of curiosity. Try to dive deep into your past experiences to uncover why you feel fear in certain situations.
- Keep a positive outlook on life. Struggling with social situations can be exhausting. If you desire connection but struggle to achieve it, you may feel isolated and lonely. Continue to engage in healthy habits and hobbies that keep your outlook positive on life.
- Do not fear getting help. No matter what level of severity your social anxiety is, everyone can benefit from therapy. Reach out to local resources and your loved ones to find a treatment center right for you.
Although many of us experience anxiety from time to time, having an anxiety disorder can be overwhelming and crippling to one’s life. Social anxiety disorder specifically can cause you to isolate completely from social situations, fearing humiliation and embarrassment if you say or do something inappropriate. If you are living with social anxiety, you are one of many that suffer from the intense distress of this condition. Luckily, psychotherapy and medication are proven, effective treatments to help reduce severe symptoms of anxiety. SoCal Mental Health is a treatment center that works to address, challenge, and help clients heal from presenting mental health distress. We offer a variety of different treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of psychotherapy. We understand that living with mental illness is exhausting. Let us help you find your light again. For more information about our services, give us a call today at (714) 328-4760.