• Alex Jarvis

Social Anxiety


Social Anxiety Disorder and its Impact on Daily Life


Are you extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations or terribly afraid of being judged by others? Are you avoiding meeting new people?


If you've been this way for, at least, six months and these feelings leave you unable to do daily tasks, such as talking to people at school or at work, you may have social anxiety disorder. This is particularly difficult with the coming of the holiday season where social gatherings are happening at every turn.


WHAT IS SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER?


Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder is a mental health issue characterized by intense, persistent fear of being observed and watched by others. This fear can affect school, work, and other everyday activities, and can even make it hard to form and keep friendships.

It's normal to feel nervous in some social situations like giving a presentation, being in a job interview, or going on a date. But social phobia is a common type of anxiety disorder where day-to-day interactions cause significant self-consciousness, anxiety, and embarrassment because one fears being scrutinized or judged negatively by others.


In social anxiety disorder, this fear and anxiety leads to avoidance which disrupts their normal functioning. This fear in social situations is so strong that one feels it's beyond their ability to control. They may worry and stress about social interactions weeks before they happen. Sometimes, they stay away from events or places where they think they might have to do something that would embarrass them.


But, learning coping skills through psychotherapy and taking medications can help the individual handle the symptoms and improve their ability to interact with people.


SYMPTOMS


Feeling discomfort or shy in certain situations isn't necessarily a sign of social phobia, especially in children. People have varying comfort levels in social situations, depending on their life experiences and personality. Some are naturally more outgoing while others more reserved.


Social anxiety disorder is different in a way that it involves fear, anxiety, and avoidance that interferes normal, day-to-day activities. Social phobia typically begins in the early to mid-teens, although it can sometimes start in younger children.



PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS


Physical signs include:

· increased heart rate

· blushing

· sweating

· trembling

· trouble catching one's breath

· nausea or upset stomach

· lightheadedness or dizziness

· mind going blank

· muscle tension


EMOTIONAL & BEHAVIORAL SYMPTOMS


These signs can include constant:

  • worry about humiliating/embarrassing yourself

  • fear of being judged negatively

  • fear that others will notice you look anxious

  • intense fear of talking or interacting with strangers

  • awkward feeling that others may notice you're embarrassed and see you sweating, trembling, blushing, or having a shaky voice

  • avoidance of people and of doing things for fear of embarrassment

  • anxiety in anticipating a feared event or activity

  • avoidance of situations where you might be the center of attention

  • expectation of worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation

  • analysis of your performance and constant identification of flaws in your interactions after a social event (i.e. overthinking how you behaved and interacted)


Children show anxiety about interacting with peers or adults by crying, clinging to parents, having temper tantrums, or refusing to speak.


AVOIDANCE OF COMMON SOCIAL SITUATIONS


Common, daily experiences may be difficult to endure for those with social phobia, such as:

  • going to work or school

  • making eye contact

  • interacting with strangers or unfamiliar people

  • starting conversations

  • attending social gatherings/parties

  • dating

  • returning items to a store

  • going in a room where people are already seated

  • using a public restroom

  • eating in front of others


Symptoms can change over time and can flare up if one is facing major (or many) changes, stresses, or demands in life. Although avoidance of anxiety-causing situations can make one feel better in the short term, the anxiety is likely to continue over the long term if one doesn't get treatment.


COMPLICATIONS


When left untreated, social phobia can potentially control one's life. Anxieties can get in the way of school, work, relationships, and overall enjoyment of life. This disorder can lead to:

  • negative self-talk

  • poor social skills

  • hypersensitivity to criticism

  • low self-esteem

  • trouble being assertive

  • low academic/employment achievement

  • isolation & difficult social relationships

  • substance abuse, such as too much alcohol

  • suicide attempts or suicide

Other anxiety disorders and certain mental health conditions (particularly major depressive disorders), often occur alongside social anxiety disorder.


WHEN TO SEE A PROFESSIONAL


See your doctor or mental health practitioner if you feel intensely fearful of (and avoid) normal social situations because they bring you worry and embarrassment or cause you to panic.


Call JarvisHypnotherapy today to get the help you need in building healthy coping skills for social anxiety.




Content credits

www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/social-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20353561

www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/social-phobia


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