Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is a common problem, and it’s not something to be ashamed of if you’re suffering from it. However, social anxiety can really wreck your life if you let it, so it’s important to make sure you know how to deal with social anxiety when it arises. Here’s what you need to know about social anxiety, what causes it, and how it can be treated.

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety can take many forms. People with a severe social anxiety disorder can experience panic attacks when they think about even going into society, but this is rare. Most of the time, people with this disorder are afraid of certain events in public, such as interacting with people on dates, writing in front of others, eating or drinking in front of others, or talking on the phone. These types of anxiety can be a huge problem, because they can lead to anticipatory anxiety, which is when people are afraid in the days or weeks leading up to a social event where they’ll have to do the thing they fear.

People with severe social anxiety are often caught in a mental cycle of thinking that everyone has negative thoughts about them, that they are going to mess up in a social situation, or that they aren’t good enough to be in a social situation in the first place. This anxiety can really interfere with school, work, dating, and even friendships.

What causes social anxiety?

This type of anxiety, like most other anxiety disorders, is caused by irrational thinking. People who suffer from this disorder often think very dramatically about social situations and replay worst case scenarios involving lots of embarrassment in their minds over and over. This is a very common problem, and it affects about 19.2 Americans, including children.

In some people, this disorder, like other anxiety disorders, is related to a serotonin imbalance in the brain. Others may develop social anxiety after having an embarrassing situation happen to them, which makes them afraid of being embarrassed again. Still others develop this problem simply because they weren’t taught foundational social skills as young children.

How to deal with social anxiety

One of the most common ways to treat this type of anxiety is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is used to treat many different forms of anxiety. This form of treatment is helpful because it helps arrest negative or destructive thought processes in their tracks, and it helps anxiety sufferers redirect or deal with these thoughts in a new way. Often times, this type of therapy includes desensitization therapy, where anxiety sufferers are expected to face their fears in increasingly riskier ways, until they see that they really have nothing to fear.

Sometimes those with this disorder also suffer from abnormally low self-esteem, so counseling to target this specific problem may help. Also, general anxiety-relief techniques, including deep breathing techniques and other relaxation techniques, can be a good way to deal with anxiety leading up to or during a social situation.

There are some medications available for those dealing with severe social anxiety disorder, though they aren’t necessary for more mild sufferers. Medications can be a helpful way to begin dealing with the problem, while cognitive-behavioral therapy that cuts it off at the very start is helpful for seeing the end of the problem once and for all.

If you’re suffering from social anxiety disorder, you’re certainly not alone! Whether you’re afraid to speak in public or to even eat in front of another person, there are other people out there who have the exact same problems. Using coping techniques and getting therapy can be a great way to help alleviate the anxiety you feel with certain social situations, so you can get your life back on track once again.