Suffering from Social Anxiety? Here’s How You Can Get Help!

Are you afraid people will judge you in everyday social interactions? Are you self-conscious when interacting with others? Do you try and avoid any meetings because you’re anxious and fearful? Have you been feeling this way for some time? Do they make it hard for you to go about your day? You might have a social anxiety disorder if you’ve answered yes to all these questions.

Social anxiety disorder is a persistent, intense fear of being watched and judged. This fear of being judged can affect all your day-to-day activities like work or school. It can even make it difficult for you to make and keep friendships. The good news after all this is that this disorder is treatable.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social Anxiety Disorder is a very common anxiety disorder. A person suffering from this disorder feels fear or Anxiety in some interactions. These interactions are usually ones where people might scrutinize, evaluate, or judge them. Some examples of such situations are:

  • Being introduced to new people
  • Speaking in public situations
  • Interviewing for a job
  • Answer a question asked in class
  • Talking to the store cashier.
  • Performing everyday activities like drinking or eating in front of others.
  • Making use of a public bathroom.

Things To Keep In Mind During Social Anxiety

All these interactions give rise to fear and Anxiety. It may happen because you think about being judged, humiliated, or rejected. Sometimes the fear in social situations is so intense for people that they feel it is out of control. This fear might get in the way of working, attending school, or other everyday activities. In other cases, people can get through these activities. However, they do it with constant Anxiety.

People who suffer from this disorder can worry weeks before an interaction happens. They even end up avoiding any such place or event. This may cause them Anxiety. In other cases, people can have Anxiety during performances instead of interactions. They feel anxiety or fear before a speech, a sports game, or performing on stage.

Social Anxiety generally begins when you’re going through late childhood. It can sometimes resemble extreme shyness and avoiding social interactions. Without treatment, you can suffer from this disorder for many years. It may even go on for a lifetime.

Signs and Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

The most common symptoms of social anxiety disorder are when someone has to perform or be around others:

  • Sweat, Blush, or Tremble
  • Have a fast heart rate
  • Feel sick to their stomach, or their mind goes blank.
  • Speak with an overly soft voice
  • Have a rigid body posture
  • Find it difficult to be around people they don’t know or make eye contact
  • Find it difficult to talk in social situations even when they try to
  • Feel fear or self-consciousness that people will judge them in a negative light.
  • Avoid social places.

Reason Behind Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder might run in the family, putting you at risk for it. But it is still difficult to find out why some family members have this disorder. Research shows that many parts of your brain are a part of the Anxiety and fear that you feel. Even genetics has some influence over how these areas function. Researchers are trying to study how your brain and body react when you’re anxious. Along with this, they are also trying to find the role of environmental and stress factors.

Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Consult a health care provider now if you think you have social anxiety. They will conduct a physical exam to get to the crux of the problem. All this information will help them in referring you to a mental health professional. They can refer you to a psychiatrist, a clinical social worker, or a psychologist.

Generally, Social Anxiety Disorder is treated using psychotherapy, medicines, or both.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a research-supported type of Psychotherapy. CBT is the most used psychotherapy for treating social anxiety disorder. CBT mainly helps you to try diverse ways of behaviour. It teaches you a different way of thinking and reacting to situations. This is to help you feel less anxious and scared in social situations. It can also guide you in learning and practising social skills. CBT is considered the gold standard when it comes to Psychotherapy.

How Can Psychotherapy Help? 

Exposure Therapy is a CBT method that targets progressive confrontation of underlying fears. It helps you confront fears of social anxiety disorder. It also helps engage you in activities that you avoid. Relaxation exercises are used with Exposure therapy many times. CBT is also delivered in group therapy form sometimes.

ACT is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This therapy takes a different path than CBT when it comes to negative thoughts. In case of negative thoughts, you have to try and use goal-setting. ACT is a newer treatment than CBT which means less data on effectiveness. But, it is very common that different people to need different therapies. So, it would be best to discuss.

Medication

Mental health professionals or health care providers might prescribe medication. This medication can be helpful in treating social anxiety disorder.

  • Antidepressants
  • Beta-blockers
  • Anti-anxiety medications

How Can Medications Help?

Antidepressants are used to treat depression. But, they can also be used to treat social anxiety disorder. These medications also have side effects such as nausea, headaches, or trouble sleeping. These side effects are not severe in nature. This happens when the dose is low at the start and slowly increases. You should talk to your health care provider in case you feel any side effects.

Beta-Blockers help with some symptoms of the disorder like heart rate, sweating, and tremors. These are the choice of medications for performance anxiety. 

Support Groups

Support groups can also help decrease social anxiety. When you are with a group of people who have the same troubles as you, you feel free. It helps you to receive honest and unbiased feedback on how others see you. This can help you figure out if your judgment on your thoughts is valid are not. You can also learn how to approach and overcome social Anxiety from the group. These support groups are available online as well as offline. But, you should carefully treat any judgment from any member of this group. This advice does not replace the advice of a health care professional.

The Bottom Line

Medication and psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder can both take some time to work. You can also combat Anxiety with a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep and exercise and eating a healthy diet are a part of this lifestyle. Taking care of your mental health is very important, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself.