By definition, social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is the fear of involving one’s self in any form of social interaction.
This is accompanied by the constant fear of being judged, embarrassed, and rejected in a social situation.
While this pretty much sums up what social anxiety is, it is far from totally capturing the struggles on how badly suffering from the said condition is.
Most individuals don’t really understand why people who suffer from social anxiety...
...experience distress in mingling and interacting with others.
It’s understandable that many people still find the entire concept questionable.
Nevertheless, there is no denying that the condition is real, and a lot of people suffer from it.
This is why, this article aims to bring awareness of the true nature of social anxiety and give light to the reality of the struggles that accompany it.
Common Misconceptions about Social Anxiety
1. Social anxiety is only present in people who are depressed.
While anxiety and depression are usually related, the truth is, one can exist without the other.
Having social anxiety does not always entail that the person suffers from depression, and vice versa.
However, severe social anxiety can lead to depression if left untreated.
2. Social anxiety is only cowardice in disguise.
- Many people dismiss this condition as an excuse or an act.
- But, let me tell you - Social anxiety is many things, but never just an act.
- Contrary to popular belief, most people who suffer from social phobia actually aspire to be able to live their lives normally.
They are, however, overshadowed by their anxiety, disabling them from doing so.
3. Only children suffer from social anxiety.
It’s true that social anxiety is more common in children; however teens and adults can suffer from the condition as well.
Mental health disorders are not limited to a certain age.
Do not discredit other people who claim to suffer from it just because of a wrong notion. What they need is support, not criticism.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety
Unbeknownst to everyone, social anxiety disorder is an actual chronic mental health condition, not just a lousy state of mind.
While feelings of discomfort and insecurity are one of the indicators of the condition, there’s more to it than meet’s the eye.
For Teens and Adults:
- Detachment from friends and family
- Frequent refusal to go out
- Avoidance to participate in social gatherings
- Isolation, keeping to himself/herself
- Panic attacks in crowded places
Difficultyin executing daily normal tasks
- Rapid heart rate
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Experiences troubles catching breath
Unlike teens and adults, social anxiety in children manifest through crying, temper tantrums, clinginess to parents, and refusal to participate or speak in social situations.
Causes of Social Anxiety
Like other mental health disorders, social anxiety arises from an underlying cause. It doesn’t just spring from nowhere. Possible causes are:
Social anxiety can be caused by an overactive amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear responses, in a person.
As a result, there is a heightened fear response to various stimuli, increasing the risk of anxiety in social situations.
The environment that we live in can also play a big factor in the development of social anxiety.
- For example, a child whose parents are suffering from anxiety can acquire it as well. This is because parents serve as a child’s role model.
- Another example is the maltreatment that a person receives from peers in a certain environment, may it be at work or in school, which trigger them to withdraw from interacting.
The most common cause of social anxiety is a past traumatic experience.
The condition may develop after an unpleasant or embarrassing event that happened in the person’s life.
Social Anxiety Treatment
There are a lot of treatment options available for social anxiety, ranging from medications to natural remedies.
There is, however, an ongoing debate on the effectiveness of each treatment.
Nevertheless, these methods can help treat social anxiety, in their own way.
The first treatment option that comes to mind when talking about mental health conditions is medications.
Truth be told, this is the most controversial treatment method as well.
Opinions regarding the effectiveness of prescriptions are divided.
Some believe that medications are the only way to cure social anxiety disorder, while others think that it does more harm than good.
- It’s hard to choose who to believe, especially since both sides have experts backing each argument up.
- However, there is no denying that medications can help some people. After all, they aid in relieving symptoms that accompany social anxiety.
- Nevertheless, medication alone cannot cure social anxiety entirely, but it does provide relief.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT
CBT is probably the most popular non-drug treatment for social anxiety disorder. For years, it has been the standard approach in treating the condition.
But like most things about social anxiety, this method is usually misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, CBT is different from a normal therapy.
It’s not a method wherein you will be asked to share about your experiences, no. It uses a combination of treatments:
- Cognitive restructuring and Exposure Therapy.
- Cognitive restructuring: The aim of this treatment is to change the way that you think.
- It works by giving the patients the chance to acknowledge and address their irrational or negative thoughts.
- This treatment motivates the patient to face their fear.
- Therapists won’t really ask you to go to social gatherings forcefully, but it does help the patient take small steps in conquering their fears.
This is another form of a non-drug treatment. However, this offers a more diverse option for treating social anxiety.
Like medications, the effects of these remedies are constantly questioned, especially since some of these methods are not backed by scientific researches.
Its legitimacy is only often supported by a number of experiments.
Nevertheless, some people who used to suffer from social anxiety vouch for these remedies.
Most of these natural remedies can be found in your local grocery market.
Some examples of natural remedies for social anxiety disorder are:
- Breathing Exercises
- Herbal Tea
- Herbal Medicine
- Essential Plant Oils
Other anxiety disorders and certain other mental health disorders, particularly major depressive disorder and substance abuse problems, often occur with social anxiety disorder.
There's no way to predict what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you want to.