Are You Struggling With Social Anxiety? Therapy Can Help
By: Robert Porter
Updated October 28, 2021
Many people in the world face difficulties when it comes to social situations. You might be surprised to hear that around 15 million American adults are affected by what is known as Social Anxiety Disorder. This mental health condition can make it that much tougher to interact with other people.
This article will discuss the signs and symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder, options for treatment, and the benefits of group therapy for managing social anxiety.
What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Individuals are living with Social Anxiety Disorder experience an intense fear of being judged, criticized, or embarrassed by others in certain or all social settings. They often avoid social interactions because of their uncontrollable worry. When they encounter a feared situation, individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder commonly have physical symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, nausea, or trembling. They may even experience a panic attack before or during a feared social situation.
Each individual may have different situations that trigger their anxiety. For some people with Social Anxiety Disorder, it may be speaking up in class or having to make a phone call at work. For others, it could be eating or drinking in public. Other people may find that anxiety symptoms emerge in specific situations where they are being evaluated, whether giving a speech, playing in a sports game, or performing onstage.
There is no singular cause of Social Anxiety Disorder. However, it is thought to develop due to a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Genetics plays a role, as individuals with a family member who has Social Anxiety Disorder are more likely to develop it themselves. Other risk factors that increase a person's likelihood of developing Social Anxiety Disorder include having a more reserved personality and experiencing trauma or abuse.
Living with Social Anxiety Disorder can cause significant disruption in one's daily functioning. It can make various life challenges, such as work, school, and forming/maintaining relationships. Many individuals with Social Anxiety Disorder find it difficult to make friends or date, despite a strong desire to connect with others in meaningful ways. However, treatment is available that can help individuals with this condition manage their symptoms and experience less distress around interacting with others. If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder, consider talking to your doctor or reaching out to a mental health professional. They can provide diagnosis and discuss treatment options that may help to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Treatment For Social Anxiety Disorder
Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder includes psychotherapy, medication, and support groups. An individual can work with a licensed mental health professional to determine the best treatment plan for them.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) is proven to be particularly helpful in helping an individual with Social Anxiety Disorder adopt new thinking patterns that help reduce fear and distress. For instance, some people may feel anxious when they are in rooms filled with many people. CBT can help an individual to develop the right skills to manage feelings of fear.
Someone with Social Anxiety Disorder can also work with a therapist to develop and practice appropriate social skills. Role-playing techniques may be used as a part of the therapeutic process. This technique aims to help an individual prepare to confront social situations that evoke fear or distress. They might mock conversations or be asked to imagine social situations that trigger anxiety. Working through these fears in a safe environment can allow individuals to deal with them more effectively when they go out into the world.
Medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and beta-blockers may also be prescribed to reduce the intensity of symptoms.
Certain lifestyle changes can be beneficial in managing anxiety as well. Getting regular exercise, following a nutritious diet, getting adequate sleep, avoiding substance use, and engaging in stress management techniques can all impact lowering anxiety levels.
It is important to note that it often takes time for people to see a reduction in symptoms. However, over time, an individual can find ways to manage their condition to be less debilitating.
Social Anxiety Group Therapy
Individuals living with Social Anxiety Disorder may benefit from group therapy sessions. Group therapy definition is a form of psychotherapy where a group of individuals meets to discuss similar challenges they may be facing under the guidance of a licensed therapist. This is a potentially very effective way for people to learn to cope with their social anxiety.
Group therapy discussion topics vary. Often, the therapist will tailor the topics to specific areas where the individuals present need support. The session topics are designed to help the members of the group work on facing feared situations and developing strategies for managing them.
Being able to interact with others who are going through the same struggles can be very helpful. It provides a safe environment to be open about the difficulties of living with Social Anxiety Disorder with others who understand. Practicing social skills with others in a supportive, non-judgmental environment can also be very beneficial. This way, an individual can receive immediate feedback from fellow members and the therapist. As they continue to practice interacting with others, they can gain confidence over time.
Group therapy techniques can be very helpful to anyone who wants to overcome their social anxiety. Combining role-playing with group interaction provides an avenue for building comfort in a social environment and developing new coping skills for managing situations that trigger anxiety. If you are living with Social Anxiety Disorder, you might consider group therapy.
Group Therapy For Teens
It is important to note that there are also group therapy options specifically for teens. If you have a teenager experiencing symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder, then it is possible to find a group that consists entirely of people in that age group. Being a teenager is very difficult, and this is an important period in anyone's life. Coping with social anxiety, along with all of the unique challenges of being a teenager, can be tough. Group therapy can help a teenager to understand better and manage the anxiety they are experiencing.
Group therapy for teens is similar to other types of group therapy. The only difference is that group therapy discussion topics may be more geared toward situations that teenagers are more likely to encounter. It can help them learn how to successfully navigate high school life while addressing their feelings of anxiety. If you have a teenager with Social Anxiety Disorder, seeking out group therapy is an excellent idea.
Where Can I Find Group Therapy Near Me?
Many therapists offer group therapy or will be able to point you in the right direction. This type of therapy is very common as it has proven to be quite effective at treating many mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. Take the time to speak to your doctor or a therapist about joining a group if you feel like you could benefit from this form of therapy.
They should be able to refer you to a group where you can start your therapy sessions. Many group sessions take place at dedicated therapy centers or offices. Most cities have many group therapy options available, so take the time to discuss your options with your doctor or mental health professional.
Online Therapy Is Also An Option
Some people feel it is not convenient to see a therapist in person, whether due to time limitations or lack of mental health care in their area. For this reason, online therapy can be very appealing. Seeking online therapy can be an affordable and convenient option for seeking out mental health support from the comfort of your own home.
Speaking to an online therapist can be an important step towards managing your social anxiety. They can work with you to explore what may be underlying your anxiety and provide you with new coping techniques for managing your symptoms.
Online therapy provides many different options for connecting with a therapist too. You can speak to a therapist over the phone if you would like to go about things in that way. There is also a video therapy option that allows you to enjoy face-to-face time with your therapist. Some social anxiety people may feel more comfortable seeking out email or text message therapy to get things started.
Signing up for online therapy through BetterHelp is simple. Consider reaching out to a therapist today if you are experiencing challenges with social anxiety. Remember that you do not have to go through this alone; help and treatment are available to help you improve your quality of life.
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