Fear is a universal human characteristic. I mean, it is only natural for the body to protect itself from the unknown, right? Sometimes, this fear can manifest in different ways in situations that our mind may view as threatening. That initial panic you feel when you are moving away from home, meeting new people, and taking a recital and making a speech in front of a bunch of people can be crippling. Still, somehow, some people manage to pull through and even make the most of the situation. However, the reaction may be different for others, especially those with a social anxiety disorder, which can also avoid situations like that entirely.
For people with social anxiety, interacting with others in social situations does not come easily and, in some cases, downright scary. This intense discomfort experienced from being in social situations can be distressful and a source of worry. In this article, we would be looking at social anxiety disorders as a concept and giving useful tips to kick it to the curb for good. Stay tuned.
Social anxiety disorder is more than just feeling shy or nervous. It is a more intense feeling that they may likely embarrass themselves if exposed to socializing, so they are faced with the crippling fear of humiliating themselves in front of others. It leaves them wondering why it is only me going through this, especially when they see others having fun and coping in such a situation.
The American Psychiatric Association defines social anxiety disorder as a mental disorder in which one has a persistent fear of one or more social situations where embarrassment may occur, and the fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social status as determined by the person’s cultural norms. It is a chronic mental condition that not just prevents people from making friends, contrary to what people perceive or portray it has. This condition affects every sphere of the life of people with social anxiety. Some situations where it could manifest include:
It may be absurd for some without this condition to wrap their heads around why anyone would be remotely upset and frightened by the situations above, but this is the reality for those who have a social anxiety disorder. They need all the help they can get to overcome it.
In the United States alone, 15 million people are known to be affected by this condition, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That is a lot of people who have to live with a social anxiety disorder. Imagine how sad it is that people just think they are shy and not socialize because they are ‘snobs.’
The teenage years are commonly the first age of onset and, without the necessary care available to them, can progress as they grow older and even become more debilitating. Becoming adults who cannot go out or have difficulties at work and everyday activities because they think they would embarrass themselves.
So how does social anxiety disorder present itself?
Symptoms of the anxiety of social anxiety may present in several ways that involve emotional, behavioral, social, and physical manifestations. They are usually persistent and last when they are confronted with a social situation. Some are:
Although some symptoms may vary, the center of the disorder is still the persistent fear for social interactions. Being free of social anxiety requires you to acknowledge it, not beat yourself up if you slip up, having a great support system, and above all, being compliant and patient with your journey. Below are some great tips and treats that could help with fighting this disorder.
Ask For Help
Sometimes, social anxiety may be overwhelming, and often, people with social anxiety are left feeling down in the dumps because of it. We understand that during the battle for control over your life, it could get like that full of angry questions and unhappiness.
However, do not despair or shut yourself in. There is a lot of avenues for you to let out the frustrations and strive for better.
Have A Sound Support System
It is a bonus if those you love and care to understand how difficult leaving with social anxiety is, especially for you. This is great as they know your quirks and know about your struggle with it.
Join A Support Group
There is something about seeing a lot of people on the same journey with you. Somehow, you do not feel so alone anymore. You get to see them push against the tide towards wellness, so it motivates you. So, does joining a social anxiety support group make your recovery a lot smoother and fun? Yes!
Initially, being in a room full of strangers could make you want to be sick and bolt for the door. But these are people having the same struggles as you, the thought of you coming also makes them feel like making a run for it. However, you/they are a constant reminder that you/they are not alone. Having the courage to go for a meeting or more is a massive step in the right direction.
Stop Being Hard On Yourself
Everyone is going through one thing or the other. In your case, it is a social anxiety disorder. If you keep putting yourself under undue pressure to get better by setting unrealistic expectations and beating yourself up if any slip up happens during a social situation, you could hinder your growth process and even worsen the situation.
No one said it is going to be easy, and things like this do not leave with a snap of the finger or with one self-affirmation. Be patient with yourself. Some days may be carefree, some hard, but don’t give up. You can pull through.
Eat Well And Exercise
Taking care of your mind also involves the body. There is just something about eating a balanced meal, drinking water adequately, and regular exercise that makes you feel on top of the world. Like you have everything under control.
Healthy living nourishes not only your body but also your mind. So, when next you are looking to skip breakfast, think again. Eating healthy puts a stop to stress eating, which may predispose you to obesity and eating disorders.
Exercise also helps you keep fit and even gain more confidence in yourself and your body. If you sign up for a gym, you are also taking a massive step out of your comfort zone as you would be exposed to people. Who knows, you may make a friend or two while you are at it.
Keep A Journal
You could detail your struggles, things that made you laugh or cry, and even how best to improve your habits, which would be tailored towards coping with social situations.
Celebrate Your Wins
When you do something like go out, face social situations, celebrate it, be your own hype man. However small or little you think the effort you made was, give yourself some accolades. Buy that shirt for you, those lovely pairs of earrings, buy ice-cream for yourself, eat a slice of cake, and deserve all the good things that life has to offer, especially now that you are doing a lot of work.
Above All, Do It For You
For any changes you want to make, do not imitate anyone or do it for anyone to like you. You are just as important, and you deserve to do things just because you want to or you like it.
If you want to change your look, do it because you want to not because someone said you should. Although it may be hard sometimes trying not to get swept up by the tide of seeking approval from people, with small instances and occasions when you did things for you, you would get used to doing your own thing and being your person.
In conclusion, you are doing well, dear, and just know that you are not alone in this fight. If you need expert help, BetterHelp can do more than cater to that. Be patient, and do not stress yourself any further; you are already on your way to recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Is social anxiety a severe disorder, is it not just shyness?
The extent of social anxiety disorder in the lives of individuals that have it varies. However, it has several complications that can affect the general performance and quality of life, especially if left untreated. Some include:
So, No. Social anxiety is more than just shyness or being nervous or being the individual’s personality trait. It interferes with everyday functioning and could have long term consequences. If you notice social anxiety features in yourself or your loved one, you must help them seek the help they need. Being available for them would go a long way in their recovery process.
2. Can I outgrow social anxiety disorder?
In many people with social anxiety, it does not just go away, except you go and seek help or any other acceptable form of intervention. Some people may outgrow it on their own with some lifestyle changes and other methods. Still, social anxiety is a chronic medical condition that requires expert care, so if you have this anxiety disorder, make sure you get help.
3. Can children have a social anxiety disorder?
The age of onset is usually during the teenage years, so children may not be diagnosed with social anxiety.
4. My 8-year-old son is a bit shy, and I am afraid when he grows up, he may have a social anxiety disorder, how do I prevent it?
Frankly, being shy around strangers when you are younger does not guaranty that you may have a social anxiety disorder in adulthood. Researchers and scientists are trying to figure out what genuinely causes anxiety disorder, and studies are still being conducted in that regard.
Preventing the onset of social anxiety disorder is a bit tricky, as many mental health professionals are still striving to discover the cause. It is essential that if you notice any symptom of this anxiety disorder, you should seek help immediately and not wait for it to progress to something worse. With prompt intervention, you can reduce some of its harmful effects and improve the quality of life.
5. How did I get social anxiety disorder?
The cause of this condition, like most mental health conditions, tends to be multifactorial. There are many interactions between your genetics, and the environment you find yourself in that can precipitate the development of social anxiety disorder. However, some causes include:
There are also risk factors that could predispose one to anxiety disorders; some include:
6. Can social anxiety be treated?
Yes, you can treat social anxiety; however, it requires a multidimensional treatment. You do not just expect to rely on medications alone. There are also lifestyle changes, behavioral therapy that needs to take place. So, get that help early.
7. Do medications work if I have social anxiety?
Before getting any medication for anxiety disorders, make sure the doctor prescribes them. Medications that are rightly prescribed would work for social anxiety. Remember to take them on time and be compliant with it. However, get assessed by a professional to affirm if you would benefit from taking medication.