Social anxiety disorder (SAD) also known as social phobia. Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that is a persistent fear of being watched and judged by others around you. People with social anxiety disorder may struggle with everyday social interactions. Which can cause irrational fear, self-consciousness and embarrassment. This is a common type of anxiety disorder and some of the fears someone with this mental health condition will experience:
· Meeting new people
· Job interviews
· Having to talk to a cashier
· Eating in public
· Going on dates
· Being called on in class to answer questions
· Using public restrooms
As with most health conditions that are many signs and symptoms for social anxiety disorder
· Being introduced to new people
· Being criticized
· Being the center of attention
· Worrying about embarrassing yourself
· Being watched
· Going around the room and having to say something
· Fear of being judged for something you say or do
· Fast heartbeat
Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million adults in the United States. This is the 2nd most common diagnosed anxiety disorder. The 1st one is specific phobia. Those who are diagnosed with social anxiety usually say they were extremely shy as a child. What can cause social anxiety? Sometimes they see it run in families as genetics play a part. Scientists have found several parts of the brain that helps control fear and anxiety. Also undeveloped social skills could also be a factor. Researchers are looking into how environment factors and stress could also play a role in anxiety disorders.
It is important to seek treatment if you are experiencing symptoms similar to the ones listed above. Those with social anxiety disorder are generally treated with medications and psychotherapy. Working with your provider to get to best treatment for you is so important. There are support groups that someone might find helpful. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been especially useful for treating social anxiety disorder.
When you struggle with social phobia you avoid many social situations such as:
· Attending parties or social gatherings
· Going to work or to school
· Starting conversations
· Making eye contact
· Entering a room where people are already seated
· Returning items from a store
Reducing your symptoms is necessary for someone with social phobia. Being able to function on a daily basis without being in constant fear. Somethings you can do to help is:
1. Get help soon after symptoms begin; don’t wait until your symptoms are severe to get help.
2. Keep a journal with the things that cause you to have anxiety and write down the symptoms you experience. Take this with you to your providers that way you don’t forget to discuss everything.
3. Avoid drugs, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine which can all make anxiety worse.
4. Try to live a healthy lifestyle and stick to a schedule. This includes anyone but especially those with mental health conditions.
If you aren’t receiving treatment for your social anxiety it can run your life and cause many more problems. There may be no current cure for social anxiety but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep your symptoms under control. Without treatment you can experience worsening symptoms such as:
· Low self-esteem
· Negative self-talk
· Poor social skills
· Suicidal tendencies
· Trouble being assertive
· Hypersensitivity to criticism
· Substance abuse
When you start your treatment program be patience. Give it some time because medication and therapy take time to work. You can overcome social phobia but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for years as I have mentioned, but always noticed certain times it would get worse. going to new places. I would love to be able to go try a new restaurant. Going into a new store that I’ve never been into but I get to anxious with going in especially if trying to go in alone. Job interviews were always the worst for me; I would get so anxious that sometimes I couldn’t even go. I felt like a lot of the time when I would go on interviews, they would notice my anxiety. I would not receive a lot of job offers. Even though I have a good job history. When I get anxious I tend to avoid eye contact, I fidget with anything I can get my hands on.
There have been many things that I avoid because of my anxiety. I didn’t go to my 10 year high school reunion because I was afraid of being judged. I can’t walk in anywhere if there is already a crowd of people there. Also I hate being late for anything if I am going to be late, I’d rather not go. If I am in a group of people who I don’t know I am extremely shy and it comes off as being rude or hateful. I was such a shy child and even through my teenage years. As an adult I’ve had no choice but to deal with it and I still struggle sometimes.
While I was in school, classes such as speech would bother me. I dreaded having to speak especially alone. If I was in a group I’d still be very nervous but it was easier having others with me. My biggest fear was always messing up and embarrassing myself in front of a room full of people.
Now that I am on medication it helps with my symptoms but I am still working to get the right treatment plan. I may not ever be 100% with my medical conditions but I will do my best to live my best life. I will continue to follow each of my treatment plans.